Boots employee banned from taking breaks wins £7k at employment tribunal

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A Boots employee suffering from a bad back has been awarded almost £7,000 by an employment tribunal after the company prevented her from taking breaks during the day.

Natalie Williams, who has scoliosis of the spine, worked for Boots’ Holyhead branch for 34 years but left after a temporary manager told staff they could no longer take the two 15-minute tea breaks during their shifts they had been used to.

Employees were told that they needed to begin working 30 minutes earlier or stay 30 minutes later if they wanted to continue to take the breaks they had previously been allowed.

Williams said the breaks helped alleviate some of her scoliosis symptoms, as standing up for long periods of time left her in “unbearable” pain.

She told an employment tribunal in Llangefni that the increasing speed at which she was expected to work forced her to take two weeks off work because of stress. She later took another two weeks off for a round of physiotherapy.

Upon her return to work after the physiotherapy course, Williams was assessed by her manager and handed a note which read “professionalism – research what the word means and begin to practice within your role (lead by example)”, the Daily Mail reported. It was after this Williams decided to resign.

The tribunal ruled that Williams had been constructively and unfairly dismissed by the pharmacy and noted that it had failed to make reasonable adjustments to her work to allow for her disability.

Boots was ordered to pay Williams £6,882 in compensation.

Judge Davies said: “The removal of her tea breaks not only affected her ability to manage her pain but also led to her working additional hours without remuneration or time off in lieu.”

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