The TUC has welcomed the European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment on the rest-break rights established by the EU Working Time Directive.
In the ruling, the ECJ found that the UK government’s guidance on rest breaks was ‘clearly liable to render the rights enshrined in the directive meaningless and are incompatible with its objective’.
The Working Time Directive established the right for most workers to a 20-minute rest break if they work more than six hours per day.
The problem has been that the UK regulatory guidance says that ‘employers must make sure that workers can take their rest, but are not required to make sure that they do take their rest’. This has been widely interpreted by employers as meaning that rest breaks can be lawfully denied.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The government must now change its guidance on rest breaks to ensure that workers know their rights and can benefit from them, and that employers know their responsibilities and meet them fully.”
The TUC called on the government to review all its guidance on EU employment law to ensure that UK workers benefit from their rights and that employers are observing the law.