The TUC has welcomed the European Court of Justice judgement about the rest-break rights established by the EU Working Time Directive.
The court found that the UK government’s guidance on rest-breaks was "clearly liable to render the rights enshrined in the directive meaningless" and "incompatible with [the working time directive's] objective".
The directive established the right for most workers to take a 20-minute rest break if they work more than six hours per day.
The problem has been that the UK regulatory guidance, published by the Department of Trade and Industry, 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 observe the law.