No injury to feelings award for breach of Working Time Regulations

Santos Gomes v Higher Level Care Limited

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held a worker cannot claim compensation for injury to feelings if they are not allowed rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations.

The Claimant won compensation from an employment tribunal after her employer had failed to provide her with 20-minute rest breaks in shifts over 6 hours, breaching Regulation 12(1) of the WTR 1998. The Employment Judge refused to award compensation for injury to feelings as well and the Claimant appealed.

The EAT rejected a series of arguments to the effect that either UK or EU law required compensation to be paid for injury to feelings, noting that compensation to a worker for a breach of the entitlement to rest breaks was akin to a claim for breach of contract, although an award takes into account any loss sustained by the worker and the default of the employer in not allowing rest breaks. The EAT noted that a claim for compensation for damage to health might be made, for example if a worker were made ill by a lack of rest breaks. Nothing in EU law provides for compensation for injury to feelings for this right, nor does UK law.

In Practice

"It is surprising that this point has not been clarified before, but the decision does make sense. As the EAT said, a claim for breaching the Working Time Regulations is more like a claim for breach of contract than a claim for discrimination. Also, the employment tribunal can still award adequate compensation without having to take injury to feelings into account," remarks Kate Fretten Employment Partner

Our Employment Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Kate or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.