Ask the Care Specialists

Welcome to our 'Ask the Care Specialists', your one-stop portal for social care-related questions. Our team of specialists will try to answer as many of your Social Care questions as possible.

What are the legal requirements for breaks when doing a 12.5 hour shift three to four times per week?

What are the legal requirements for breaks when doing a 12.5 hour shift three to four times per week?

Under the Working Time Regulations, an employee or worker is entitled to a minimum of 20 minutes break when working a shift of more than 6 hours. The employer should also ensure however that any employee/worker has adequate work breaks where the work done may put a strain on their health and safety which may include giving them additional short breaks from work throughout the day.


However, as an RGN it may be the case that your wife is a “Special Case” worker. Special Case workers are those whose “activities involve the need for continuity of service or production”. In practice this means circumstances where there is a need to ensure there are no gaps in treatment or care of service users. This may mean therefore that it is not always possible for a Special Case worker to have a full minimum 20 minute break as it may be interrupted for urgent treatment or care. In those circumstances, the employer should ensure that they make note of the period of time the worker has been unable to take a break and ensure that this is given back to them as “compensatory rest” at another point in the shift.

Chris King

Employment Law Specialist

Chris is one of our Employment Law Specialists from Napthens Solicitors. Read more

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Have you got a social care question that you just can't find the answer to? Our team of sector specialists is here to provide you with easy-to-understand top tips on a wide range of topics, from dementia, mental health to employment law or every day operational queries to help you deliver outstanding care.

We try to answer as many of your questions as possible. We give priority to frequently asked questions and questions regarding current events and trends. To learn more about the team visit:

Please note that our specialists cannot offer answers to matters requiring legal advice. Please do have a look at our website at other answers provided by our experts and in our Expert Insights section There is a wealth of information here freely accessible that could help you.

Important note: We are not in any way affiliated or connected to the Care Quality Commission, Care Inspectorate Scotland, or Care Inspectorate Wales. If your query relates to someone who is at risk of harm or in danger, you must follow your local safeguarding procedures. It is important that you speak to your regulator who will provide you with the best guidance and support.

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