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Claim Over Entitlement to Rest Breaks Not Time Barred

03 May 2012

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), an adult worker is entitled to a rest period of not less than eleven consecutive hours in each 24-hour period during which he or she works or, in certain specific circumstances, to an equivalent period of compensatory rest. If a worker is denied this right and wishes to present a complaint to the Employment Tribunal (ET), paragraph 2 of Regulation 30 of the WTR states that this must be presented ‘before the end of the period of three months…beginning with the date on which it is alleged that the exercise of the right should have been permitted…’.

In Scottish Ambulance Service v 1. Truslove 2. Wood, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the ET’s decision that the correct interpretation of paragraph 30(2) is that the time for bringing a claim starts running on each occasion that the worker did not receive the daily (or compensatory) rest to which they were entitled.

Mr Truslove and Miss Wood worked as relief ambulance workers. They lodged a grievance that the time they spent travelling to ‘detached stations’ and the time that they were on call should be counted as working time for the purposes of the WTR and taken into account when calculating their entitlement to rest breaks. When this was rejected by Scottish Ambulance Service, they took their claim to the ET.

Scottish Ambulance Service argued that the claim was out of time. Its contention was that the wording of paragraph 30(2) envisaged a single date on which the time period for bringing a claim started running and this was either when the grievance was refused or the date of the first missed rest period. Mr Truslove and Miss Wood argued that the time period for bringing a claim started to run anew each time a rest period which should have occurred was missed.

The Employment Judge concluded that the WTR lay down minimum standards and a worker’s right to daily rest is a legal right that arises in every consecutive period of 24 hours. Any refusal by the employer cannot affect the continuation of that right. The EAT agreed with this analysis and found nothing in the wording of paragraph 30(2) that supported the interpretation put forward by Scottish Ambulance Service. The employer’s appeal was therefore dismissed and the case remitted to the same ET to be considered on its merits.

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