Rest breaks for support staff

Understand your requirements around allowing support staff rest breaks. Find out what to do about pay if support staff members work through their break.

Last reviewed on 7 February 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 2939
  1. Legal requirements
  2. Working through breaks: payment
  3. You can give support staff longer and more regular breaks 

Legal requirements

Workers over 18

Your employees have the right to 1 uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during their working day if they work more than 6 hours a day. This can be a tea or lunch break.

Unless their employment contract says so, they do not have the right to:

  • Get paid for rest breaks
  • Take smoking breaks

You can say when employees must take their break, as long as:

  • The break is taken in one go, somewhere in the middle of the day (i.e. not at the beginning or the end)
  • You allow employees to spend it away from where they actually work (e.g. their desk)

If you say an employee should go back to work before their break is finished, it doesn't count as a rest break.

This is set out in GOV.UK guidance on rest breaks at work, in the overview and taking breaks sections.

Young workers above school leaving age

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