Question: What breaks should I get at work?

Did you know that taking a break from work is proven to increases focus and productivity ?🤓

One of the most searched job questions on the internet is "What breaks should I get and what are my rights?"

Breaks at work

You’ll probably be entitled to rest breaks during your working day, as well as days off in the week and a minumum time off between shifts. Most people are entitled to breaks but there are some jobs that mean you don’t always have a legal right to them.

Rest breaks if you’re over 18

If you’re aged over 18 and work for more than 6 hours a day, you’re entitled to:

  • An uninterrupted rest break of at least 20 minutes, taken during your shift and away from your place of work e.g. desk or shop floor. (It also should not be taken at the beginning or end of your shift)

  • You're entitled to a rest period of 11 consecutive hours in each 24 hour period you work. For example; if you finish your shift at 10pm you shouldn't start again till 9am the next morning.

  • 1 day off in each working week - this could be averaged out over 2 weeks, so you'd be entitled to 2 days off in a fortnight. So you can work 12 days in a row but then you would need 2 days off.

Rest breaks if you’re over school leaving age but under 18

If you’re over school leaving age but under 18, you can’t usually work for more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. You’re usually entitled to:

  • A 30 minute rest break if you work for more than 4 1/2 hours in one day.

  • 12 hours rest between each working day. For example; if you finish your shift at 10pm you shouldn't start again till 10am the next morning.

  • 2 days off per working week

There are limits on the hours you can work at night if you’re over school leaving age but under 18.

You can’t usually work between:

  • 10pm and 6am - if your contract says you have to work after 10pm, you must finish by 11pm

  • Midnight - 4am

*There are some exceptions to the above. For example; people who work in hospitals, agriculture, retail work, hotels, catering and bakeries.

Breakroom pro tip: Find out what employees say about breaks by visiting Breakroom we show you exactly what breaks you'll get and if you'll be paid for them.

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What to do if your employer isn't letting you take your rest breaks

Your employer legally has to let you take the rest breaks you're entitled to. If they don’t, speak or write to them to see if you can resolve the issue. If this doesn’t work, talk to your HR person if you’re not sure how to do this check your contract or employee handbook.

You might also be able to get advice from your union representative - if you have one.

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Last updated on 16 August 2022