UNISON statement about the importance of members getting a break.

UNISON statement about the importance of members getting a break.

There have recently been a number of messages and news stories about meal breaks for staff. UNISONs position is clear that there has been no agreement with the trust to change existing meal break arrangements. The Trust has confirmed that it continues to operate within current meal break arrangements which means that staff are not booked on a meal break outside of the meal break window (unless they are delayed and therefore the usual late meal break arrangements apply).

UNISON wants to ensure the welfare of staff and retention of employees within the employment of EEAST. UNISONs position is to ensure that EEAST are adhering to H+S legislation and employee conditions of service around working time regulations.

The working time regulations for NHS staff are set out in section 27 of the national terms and conditions and via a local meal break arrangement at EEAST.


As Ambulance employees the trust are expected to apply the principles as far as urgent need or demand of the service permits.

27.5 Regulation 2 cites ambulance services within the definition of civil protection services. In the case of employees unable to benefit from the protection of the Working Time Regulations, ambulance services employers are expected to apply the principles of the Regulations and this agreement, as far as the exigencies of the service permit.
27.15 Where the working day is longer than six hours, all staff are entitled to take a break of at least 20 minutes. Rest breaks must be taken during the period of work and should not be taken either at the start or the end of a period of working time.

There are existing meal break arrangements locally that are in place to ensure breaks are not taken within the start of a shift and compensatory payments if a break is late (at the end of a period of work) or not taken.
27.16 In circumstances where work is repetitive, continuous or requiring exceptional concentration, employers must ensure the provision of adequate rest breaks as an integral part of their duty to protect the health and safety of their employees. In such circumstances the advice of local occupational health services should be sought.

If you believe you are not getting a break, or getting a break that is out of time or not part of an agreement determined locally or have claimed a late meal break that you feel you were unfairly not paid please collate the evidence, give this to your local rep and this can be raised.

Unison are clear that any subsequent changes regarding meal breaks need to be discussed at an early stage, as outlined in UNISONs recognition agreement, underpinned by National terms and Condition, and Health and Safety legislation.

UNISON will continue to listen to your concerns and update you over progress.