Can you be forced to take a full hour for lunch? by Dave


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Dave
Gill has just started a new job (a secondment for a year) which involves a half hour commute in the morning and evening. She used to work just two miles down the road....

Not a problem as such, as she is OK with the drive, but today she's been told by her boss that she "must" take a full hour for lunch, whereas she is used to just having 30 minutes. Obviously this means a difference of 2.5 hours a week. She'd much prefer to take a shorted break and be able to finish earlier and/or start later.

I know that working hours directives say that you have to take a minimum of 30 mins for every 6 hours worked, but can longer breaks be enforced? I've had a Google but can't find anything yet.....

Cheers!

Posted 02 Apr 2013, 17:43 #1 


ksilver
Not an expert, but I thought you could opt out of the working time directive?

Posted 02 Apr 2013, 17:49 #2 

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Duncan
It's not part of the working time directive, as that's about maximum hours over a number of weeks.

However I'd guess it comes down to workplace working hours rules. Usually there's some kind of employee handbook, and the contract says you have to do what it says in the handbook. So if the handbook says you work certain hours, then I can't see you can argue. I do understand, having almost two and a half hours round trip, and some employers are more flexible than others. My previous employer, for example changed from floating to fixed holidays, with no notice or discussion, and they could do it because of the way contracts were worded. Needless to say, I no longer work there!
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Posted 02 Apr 2013, 18:05 #3 

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MrDoodles
What does it say in the contract of employment that she's signed? :confused:
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Posted 02 Apr 2013, 21:20 #4 

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Dave
She'll be looking at what the contract says today, but at this point, not sure. Thing is, everyone else in the office lives in the same town (Bourne) and can easily get home for lunch, whereas Gill is commuting from Sleaford so about 20 miles/30 minutes....

Posted 03 Apr 2013, 07:53 #5 

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Gate Keeper
I suspect it is more to do with not having to pay her for the full hour. So if she works 8 hours in a day she will only get paid for 7 hours. As others have said it should be seen in the terms and conditions at work contract. If it is not there, then there could be an opportunity for her hours to be negotiated informally with the employer. But it is good practice to have it written and agreed to by both parties.
All the best

Phil

Posted 03 Apr 2013, 19:10 #6 

User avatar
Duncan
Thinking about it, I can't see how they can't be allowed to set whatever lunchtime they need so long as it meets the minimum requirements. Think if it were a factory, and they decided they wanted to stop the production line for the hour to make sure anyone that wanted to could go to the canteen. Then if they weren't allowed to insist on an hour then how could it work? Hypothetical situation I know.
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Posted 03 Apr 2013, 19:58 #7 

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Gate Keeper
Lunch time breaks are usually covered in 2 - 3 shifts with staff covering for the hour, with the next one covering and so on, until everyone has taken their break. I have seen this system operate in the NHS and private care sector. It can fail when there are not enough staff to cover and then the staff are expected to work through their lunch break and take the time back later, as time owing. If that happens, make a record of dates and times. Get it signed by the manager as it can build up to having a whole day off :)

Posted 03 Apr 2013, 21:43 #8 


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