Changes to employment laws will be coming into effect on 6 May 2019.

The changes include a restriction on 90 day trial periods to employers with less than 20 employees (currently any employer is able to have a 90 day trial period) and re-introduction of set rest and meal breaks.

If an employee works between 2 and 4 hours they are entitled to a 10 minute rest break which is paid. 

If they work between 4 and 6 hours they are entitled to one paid 10 minute rest break and one 30 minute meal break (unpaid).

If they work between 6 and 8 hours they get two 10 minute paid rest breaks and one 30 minute meal break.  For over 8 hours there is a corresponding increase in the number of breaks which matches the extra hours worked.

Meal breaks and rest breaks should be at times agreed between the employee and employer, but in the absence of agreement they are taken in the middle of the work period between 2 and 4 hours and at 1/3 and 2/3 from between 4 and 6 hours.  Between 6 and 8 hours they are taken at 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 of the way through the work period.  For over 8 hours the breaks are worked out in a corresponding fashion.

For agreements entered into before 6 May 2019 they will be able to contain the 90 day trial period and that will still be effective after the change to the legislation. 

However, any meal break arrangements entered into before 6 May will be overtaken by the requirements in the Act unless the contract provides for more than the minimum breaks.

Alan Knowsley

Employment Lawyer