Injury to feelings under Working Time Regulations for no rest breaks?

24 May 2016

Can a worker claim compensation for injury to feelings if not allowed rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations (WTR)?

No, held the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Santos Gomes v Higher Level Care Ltd, dismissing the Claimant’s appeal.

The Claimant won compensation from an employment tribunal after her employer had failed to provide her with 20-minute rest breaks in shifts over 6 hours, breaching Regulation 12 (1) of the WTR 1998. The Employment Judge refused to award compensation for injury to feelings.

The EAT rejected a series of arguments to the effect that either UK or EU law required compensation to be paid for injury to feelings, noting that compensation to a worker for a breach of the entitlement to rest breaks was akin to a claim for breach of contract, although an award takes into account any loss sustained by the worker and the default of the employer in not allowing rest breaks.

The EAT noted that a claim for compensation for damage to health might be made, e.g. if a worker were made ill by a lack of rest breaks. Nothing in the Directive or EU law provides for compensation for injury to feelings for this right, nor does UK law.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin which provided the details of this case.