Was a worker who had been refused unpaid rest breaks entitled to compensation for injury to feelings? The EAT has considered this, and we report on their decision.
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, workers are entitled to unpaid rest breaks of 20 minutes whenever they have worked more than 6 hours in a day.
Where they are breached, the regulations entitle workers to compensation which is “just and equitable” in all the circumstances, having regard to the employer’s default in refusing the rest breaks and any loss sustained by the worker.
These rules were elaborated on in a case previously heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Miles v. Linkage Community Trust, where they held that the following factors were also relevant:
- the number of rest breaks that had been refused;
- how outrageous and offensive the behaviour of the employer was; and
- the hours worked by the employee in total.
In this case the Claimant, Miss Santos Gomes, was successful in her complaint, and was awarded £1,220 in compensation. However, she also claimed for compensation for injury to feelings.
The injury to feelings claim was refused by the EAT, however, who confirmed the Tribunal’s initial decision that there was no entitlement whatsoever to injury to feelings awards, which are generally restricted to anti-discrimination legislation (which serves to protect a person’s very identity and being).
This case provides useful clarification of the principles involved in assessing the amount of compensation an employee may be entitled to where they have not been given rest breaks.
Our view is that, although injury to feelings is not an award that can be given, there is enough latitude in the “just and equitable” yardstick in the legislation and in the guidelines set out in the Miles decision for employees to be awarded something approaching this in any case.