Lauren Bennett

+44 (0)1733 887689 lnbennett@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Personal injury damages available for failure to provide rest breaks

Employment / 14 March 2019

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) has found, in Grange v Abellio London Ltd, that compensation for personal injury is available for a failure to provide rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (“WTR”).

ISSUE

The claimant alleged, and Abellio ultimately conceded, that Abellio had failed to allow the claimant to take some rest breaks at certain times during his employment.

The claimant argued that the refusal of rest breaks “was more than a minor inconvenience” because of an underlying medical condition.  The Employment Tribunal (“ET”) agreed, and therefore ordered a just and equitable award (amounting to £750).  Abellio appealed this decision arguing that the WTR do not allow damages for personal injury.  The EAT disagreed holding that ETs can award damages for personal injury under the WTR.

KEY DATES

The judgment was published on 7 March 2019.

IMPACT

The effect of the case is that:

  1. Claimants can now seek damages for personal injury where they have been denied rest breaks and can show that they have suffered “more than a minor inconvenience”.
  2. In low value claims (like this one), proportionality might drive the parties and the ET to deal with the issues without medical evidence and on a “common sense basis”.  However, in other cases, medical evidence should be obtained.

ACTION

Employers should ensure that their working arrangements enable a worker to take the breaks that they are entitled to, regardless of whether a worker requests a break.

Given the significant rise in the amount of musculoskeletal problems in the workplace in recent years, it is now more likely that personal injury claims will be brought in the ET where a failure to provide rest breaks is being alleged.

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