I have read the working time directive and need clarification on the timing of rest breaks. Does the 20 minute break have to be within the 6 hours, immediately following the six hours or anywhere in the shift as long as it is not at the end?
My scenario is this - my employer is looking to change us to 12 hour shifts. We meet at work and put our bags on the works coach, we have to be in the building half an hour before the bus leaves but we can be smoking, eating, drinking coffee or catching up with e-mails we just have to be there.
The coach journey is 2 hours, we can't go anywhere but we can sleep/read/eat etc. The plan is that when we get to work we let the outgoing shift take their meal break (not all at once as the kitchen is small), we than stagger our meal break - this means some of us can't take our break until 7 hours after we start work.
Some colleagues think this outrageous, some (like me) think it is 7 hours but we haven't actually done anything for the first 2 1/2 hours! Others say you are entitled to a break because you have done 6 hours work but you don't have to take it within the 6 hours.
We have got into a terrible muddle and some of the arguments can be quite heated - does anyone actually KNOW what the law says rather than adding to the speculation?
The break will actually be one and a half hours, on some shifts it is a half hour breakfast break early and then an hour for lunch later, and on others two 45 min break evenly spread out/staggered across the shift to try and eat at some semblance of meal times.
I totally get that the travel time is working time and therefore counts towards the 6 hours, the debate seems to be whether everyone is entitled to have at least started their first break 6 hours and 1 minute after the shift has started. (Yes I have googled, read the WTD, the CAB site etc, even our union reps seem to be giving a personal opinion rather than a definitive legal ruling).