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6 Hour rule and breaks

(24 Posts)
Flowerpot77 Tue 18-Oct-11 17:41:25

Hi - can anyone help me? If I work a 6 hour day (9-3) do I have to take a break? or can i legally work through?

KatieMortician Tue 18-Oct-11 17:46:06

You have the right to a 20 minute rest break if you are expected to work more than six hours at a stretch. So yes you can work through but if you go over those hours you should have a break in the middle.

Flowerpot77 Tue 18-Oct-11 17:50:00

Thanks KateMortician; trying to fit in a full time week around childcare (3 short days and 2 long days), my manager is trying to tell me that a 9-3 will count as 5.5 hours as I need to take a lunch break by law (which I never ever get to take anyway, a sandwich at my desk uninterrupted is a luxury!) Do you know if its written anywhere in employment legislation? Thanks again.

said Tue 18-Oct-11 17:53:13

Look at Working Time Regs - you can't be forced to take a "lunch break"

KatieMortician Tue 18-Oct-11 17:53:21

Yes it's covered under the working time directive 1998. See for layman's version that you can print and give to your employer.

Flowerpot77 Tue 18-Oct-11 17:55:13

Ahh thanks, you dont know how much of a difference this will make to my working week!

said Tue 18-Oct-11 17:55:53 Here but hmm about interpretation of this bit "t cannot be taken off one end of the working day - it must be somewhere in the middle"

KatieMortician Tue 18-Oct-11 18:01:51

That bit is to make sure employers actually give proper breaks not just make people hang on all day and then send them home early exhausted. It's a good bit!

said Tue 18-Oct-11 19:21:07

oh ok. Glad that it's a good bit.

Grevling Tue 18-Oct-11 23:42:47

Bear in mind the employer can require you to have a 30 min break below 6 hours. Not enforced by law but they can tell you that you must take 30 mins off.

KatieMortician Wed 19-Oct-11 00:27:47

But they can't insist it's unpaid and/or doesn't count as part of your working hours unless it's in your contract that they can.

Grevling Wed 19-Oct-11 11:35:43

Yes, but assumed that the OP was negotiating a different contract to current due to hours change.

KatieMortician Wed 19-Oct-11 12:33:04

Ah I hadn't thought of that. I just assumed she was compressing exisiting hours.

flowery Wed 19-Oct-11 12:58:50

I wouldn't personally advise a client to allow an employee to work 9-3 without a break, it's not sensible in my view to work that long in a stretch.

Also if other members of staff have an hour unpaid break written into their day but usually work through most of it, it's not fair on them if someone else is allowed to work through and get paid for it.

Flowerpot77 Wed 19-Oct-11 14:51:48

I work full time and always have (37.5) a week - im trying to finish at least twice a week at 3 to pick up my son from school but have been told that if i work six hours I need to factor in 30 mins for lunch as "this is the law".

I know now that this is actually incorrect and it applies if you work more than 6 hours so answers my question and also gives me back an hour -iykwim.

Flowery - its not fair that anyone should have to work unpaid full stop and then be told that "this is the law"!

BTW, I think my manager was confused as when I discussed this with her this morning she realised what it actually meant. She will discuss with HR and get back to me. So thank you everyone for your very constructive advice - the link was just what I needed.

flowery Wed 19-Oct-11 21:20:58

Knowing that you are not required by law to have a break doesn't necessarily give you back an hour though - just because it's not legally required doesn't mean your employer won't require it.

And no of course no one should have to work unpaid, but if the reality is that everyone is working at least part of their lunch 'hour' and most people aren't getting paid but you are, that's a potential problem.

Hopefully you'll be allowed to do what you would prefer I just think you should be prepared for the fact that your HR department will advise your manager that you ought to have a break built into such a long day, law or not.

gardeningleave Thu 20-Oct-11 09:22:32

Grrrr... Flowery reading your post makes me seeth – the very things that are put in place to help the employee are used to batter them round the head instead. When “advising your clients” maybe you should also advise that a break should be a break, not an excuse to keep someone at work longer for free.

Flowerpot – let us know what the outcome is – does your company have lots of family friendly policies and a flexible working policy? If they come back with a No maybe you could explore WFH or a condensed working pattern eg 9 day fortnight? Little ones are little for such a short time, I really can understand both from a financial and emotional point of view wanting to be dropping and collecting from school.

flowery Thu 20-Oct-11 09:31:24

"When “advising your clients” maybe you should also advise that a break should be a break, not an excuse to keep someone at work longer for free."

Excuse me? What are you on about?

gardeningleave Thu 20-Oct-11 09:45:09

Flowery in your post you (rightly) state that a long working day should have a break built into it - but at the same time you acknowledge that it may be that the break isnt actually a break and that people work through, the OP has already stated that they dont actually get to take a lunch break - how is this fair for someone trying to fulfill their contractual obligations whilst trying to juggle homelife? to write in a break just so that it looks good on paper is really really unfair and I personally think an employee knows what they are capable of and if working 6 hours straight it realistic for them. HR depts and managers need to stop taking advantage of employees in this way.

flowery Thu 20-Oct-11 10:02:33

When did I say I advise clients (intrigued as to why that was in quotes btw) that people working through lunch was a good idea and something to take advantage of?

If the reality is at the OP's workplace that everyone currently has an hour's unpaid lunchbreak in their contract but doesn't take it all; if the OP and all her colleagues currently have 9-5 on their contracts but, say, come in at 8.45, leaves at about 5.30 and takes half an hour for lunch rather than an hour, it's not fair for people wanting to work part time to suddenly only work their exact contracted hours when everyone else isn't.

I did not at any point say either that her employer is right to have people working like that nor did I at any point say that I advise my clients (sorry "advise my clients") that they should do that. I resent having words put in my mouth quite frankly.

Long hours culture is a wider problem, but if it ends up that the OP and her colleagues all take half an hour lunch but her colleagues have an hour which is unpaid, that's not fair and leads to resentment.

Grevling Thu 20-Oct-11 10:02:52

"Grrrr... Flowery reading your post makes me seeth – the very things that are put in place to help the employee are used to batter them round the head instead. When “advising your clients” maybe you should also advise that a break should be a break, not an excuse to keep someone at work longer for free."

That's not really called for none of us know about Flowery's work but she does help a lot here.

Remember though that HR is there mainly to protect and advise the employer not the employee.

KatieMortician Thu 20-Oct-11 10:18:40

I'd go a step further Grevling: HR are only there to protect and advise the employer (although good HR people know treating employees properly is the best way of protecting the organisation).

Flowery is absolutely right to point out that custom and practice and contractual obligations may negate the legal position. What this board (and especially Flowery) is really good at is showing the reality and not just the legal position.

I may not have helped on this one by being a bit literal with my earlier postings.

Flowerpot77 Thu 20-Oct-11 11:20:51

Hi thank you everyone for your posts, been very helpful to get a view other than that in my head. I have worked in the same team for 13 years and this is the first time I have asked for a change of any sort; I should have said that I did sound out the rest of the team (theres 6 of us in all) before approaching my manager to ensure that no one was going to feel put out by my change in hours and they all said they were fine with it.

HR have agreed to a trial period of 6 weeks after which there will be a review of how things are working. I think this is fair.

flowery Thu 20-Oct-11 12:54:45

Sounds like a good outcome Flowerpot. Trial periods are great because it's your chance to prove how well your proposal works, making it more difficult for your employer to refuse it.

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