An important case about compensatory rest and rest breaks took place recently. The case of Hughes v Corps of Commissionaires Management Ltd concerned a security guard who worked 12-hour shifts on his own (other security guards employed there worked other shifts) and who regularly had interrupted breaks. We look at the details and what this means in our article here.
The guards were required to monitor and supervise access to the site, and they could take rest breaks in a kitchen area whenever they chose but had to remain on call during these periods. He could leave a message on a reception desk with a contact phone number, saying he was on a break, which meant his breaks were sometimes interrupted. When this happened, he was allowed to start the break again. None of the guards knew before they started or re-started a break whether it would be uninterrupted or not.
Mr Hughes claimed he was not getting the rest breaks he was entitled to under the Working Time Regulations, which entitles workers to an uninterrupted rest break of 20 minutes when working more than a six-hour day. There is an exemption in the WTR, however, for workers engaged in security or surveillance activities (and other ‘special cases‘) that require a permanent presence but the worker must then be permitted to take “an equivalent period of compensatory rest”.