26 Apr 2019

Grange v Abellio London Ltd UKEAT/0304/17

Facts

Mr Grange was employed by Abellio from 2009 in a role that required him to regulate a bus service and monitor arrival and departure times. Initially his working day was 8.5 hours, with the half hour being unpaid and treated as a rest break. Often he was too busy to take a break. His working day changed in July 2012 to eight hours, with employees working without a break and finishing half an hour earlier. However, he was told that he could take a meal break if he wanted one. In July 2014, Mr Grange submitted a grievance complaining that he had been forced to work without a meal break for several years, which had affected his health. He then went on long term sick leave. His grievance was rejected and he brought an ET claim. He argued that Abellio had refused to permit him to exercise his entitlement to a rest break.

Decision

The EAT upheld his claim in relation to the period after July 2014 (his claim before then was out of time) and found there were 14 days on which he could not take a rest break. He had suffered no financial loss but the EAT awarded him £750 damages for personal injury, despite a lack of medical evidence. This was because Mr Grange had an underlying medical condition affecting his bowel that meant he had to eat regularly, otherwise he would suffer discomfort and distress.

Comment

This decision is bad news for employers, as it opens the door for employees and workers to claim damages for personal injury if they cannot take their rest breaks and can argue that they have suffered as a result. This was a low value claim but in higher value claims employers should obtain medical evidence.