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In the fast-paced world of work, it’s easy for employees to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, often forgetting the importance of taking breaks. In the United Kingdom, the Working Time Regulations are in place to ensure that employees have the right to rest, including mandatory rest breaks during the workday. In this blog, we will delve into the specifics of rest breaks that UK employers must provide to their employees, with a particular focus on lunch breaks.

Daily Rest Break:

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employees are entitled to a minimum of 11 consecutive hours of rest in each 24-hour period. This means that after completing their work shift, employees should have a substantial break of 11 hours before the next work day starts.

Weekly Rest Break:

In addition to the daily rest break, employees have the right to a minimum of 24 hours of uninterrupted rest in each 7-day period or 48 hours of rest in every 14-day period. Employers must ensure that employees have enough time to recharge and recover from their working hours.

Rest Breaks during Work Hours:

For every 6 hours an employee works, they are entitled to a rest break. These breaks should be a minimum of 20 minutes and cannot be substituted for additional working hours or combined to form longer breaks on other days. Employers must facilitate these rest breaks to ensure their employees’ well-being and productivity.

Lunch Breaks:

Though there is no specific provision for a lunch break in the Working Time Regulations, employers are encouraged to provide a reasonable break for meals during the work day. The duration and scheduling of lunch breaks can be agreed upon between the employer and employees, ensuring that the needs of both parties are met.

Exceptional Circumstances:

Certain industries or job roles may involve exceptional circumstances where continuous 24-hour operations are required. In such cases, the employer and employee can reach a mutual agreement to adapt rest break schedules, ensuring compliance with the Working Time Regulations.


The right to rest is a fundamental aspect of the Working Time Regulations in the UK, and employers must prioritise their employees’ well-being by providing appropriate rest breaks. Daily and weekly rest periods, as well as regular breaks during work hours, are essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and preventing burnout. While the Working Time Regulations do not explicitly mandate lunch breaks, it is in the best interest of both employers and employees to incorporate reasonable lunch breaks to foster a happier, more productive workforce.

By understanding and respecting these rights, employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee welfare and create a positive work environment that encourages work-life balance, increased job satisfaction, and improved overall performance. Remember, a well-rested workforce is a more engaged and efficient workforce, benefiting both employees and employers alike.

Need some more advice when it comes to employee breaks? Simply give us a call on 03300 414589, visit our contact us page or drop us an email at to arrange a conversation.

DISCLAIMER: The article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. While the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances may impact the accuracy and validity of the information. EffectiveHRM is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for any action or decision taken as a result of using the guidance.

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