Injury to feelings for resting!

Can employees bring a claim for injury to feelings for the failure to allow them to take rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations?

No, held the Employment Appeal Tribunal. This issue was considered in the case of Santos Gomes v Higher Level Care Limited.

Summary of the rest entitlements under the Working Time Regulations

Under the Working Time Regulations, workers are entitled to the following rest breaks:

  • a daily rest of 11 uninterrupted hours in every 24 hour period
  • a weekly rest of 24 uninterrupted hours in every 7 day period
  • an uninterrupted 20 minute rest break if they work more than 6 hours a day.

The facts

Mrs Gomes brought a number of Employment Tribunal claims against her former employer, Higher Level Care Limited, including that her former employer had failed to provide her with a 20 minute rest break as required under the Working Time Regulations. Mrs Gomes was successful in arguing that her employer had failed to provide this break. The parties agreed that she was entitled to compensation of £1,220.

However, Ms Gomes also claimed she was entitled to compensation for injury to feelings, submitting that there was nothing in the wording of the Working Time Regulations or under EU law to suggest otherwise.

The decision

The Employment Tribunal held that Mrs Gomes was not entitled to injury to feelings. Mrs Gomes appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. She argued that an award for injury to feelings could be made and referred to the Working Time Regulations, which provide that the amount of compensation shall be such as the Tribunal considers just and equitable in all of the circumstances having regard to the employer’s default in refusing to allow the worker to exercise her rights.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected the appeal, notwithstanding the argument was a good one, on the basis that there was no express provision in the Working Time Regulations to claim injury to feelings. There are specific provisions in the Equality Act, Part-Time Workers’ Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment Regulations and Fixed-Term Employees Prevent of Less Favourable Treatment Regulations to allow for injury to feelings to be claimed, however there is no such provision in the Working Time Regulations.

This case is a reminder to all employers of the requirement to ensure that employees are entitled to the minimum rest breaks required under the Working Time Regulations.

If your require any further information or help, please contact:

Sejal Raja
Partner and Head of Employment

T. 020 7227
E. sejal.raja@rlb-law.com


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.