Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

11th January 2017

Can staff skip their break?

I factor in a thirty minute break for staff in between finishing early evening calls and starting bedtime calls. My staff are telling me that they don't want a break and would rather finish work earlier. I have explained that by law I need to factor in a break (they could be working from 4:30 until 9:30) and that I am unwilling to sanction them not using that time for a break as it's not fair on staff who want that time. The clients should have their calls at the allocated time, and not to suit the staff. Staff argue that because they don't have time to go home that they don't want to spend a break in their cars.
Thanks in advance.


Thank you for your question.

I asked our employment law specialists Napthens for their advice and this is it:

"It appears that the staff are working longer than six hours as, prior to the break (which I assume is 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm) they are performing early evening calls and after the break they are performing bedtime calls for up to five hours.

Under the Working Time Regulations, all workers are entitled to at least an uninterrupted 20 minute break if their shift is longer than 6 hours.

You must ensure that workers can take their rest periods or breaks, but are not required to force workers to take them.

However, to do as suggested by those workers who wish to finish early would be to remove the entitlement to rest breaks and would therefore be a breach of the Working Time Regulations. Legal action can be taken against you by any worker who alleges that they have been prevented from taking a rest break.

In addition as you have stated there appears to be a business need for staff to not finish early as the clients need to have their calls at the allocated times."

I am sure you will find this helpful.

Best wishes.


*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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