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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50497
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I was given a contract of employment some 5/6 years ago and

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I was given a contract of employment some 5/6 years ago and it stated I was to work 40 hours per week. I start at 9 and finish at 5.30 and am allowed 1 hour for lunch. They are now saying the lunch hour is not included in those hours and I need to work an extra half hour every day. Question is a lunch hour not included in the hours of work and can they now after we have been working 9 to 5.30 change that because they have come across an old contract?

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Is this hour long lunch break paid?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
No we do not get paid for lunch breaks

Thank you. Breaks do not count as part of your working hours so if you are contracted to work 40 hours a week these would not include any of your breaks. Assuming you work 5 days a week you would be expected to work 8 hours a day and if you get an hour lunch break in between your overall working day could be 9 hours long (start at 9 and work until 6 with a break of 1 hour in between).

However, you can argue that the fact this has been applied differently over the last 5-6 years means that through custom and practice the current arrangement has become contractually binding. This is not easy to prove and only a tribunal or court can decide if that is the case, but the longer something has been applied consistently and been common knowledge, the stronger the argument that it has overtaken anything previously agreed and become the contractual norm. The issue is how to ensure it is accepted by the employer - ideally you want everyone affected to get together and challenge the employer as a group so that it would be difficult for them to single anybody out. However, if they do not budge then in the end you only have a few options - accept the changes, refuse to accept them and resign claiming constructive dismissal, or refuse them and see what the employer does and if they dismiss you - claim unfair dismissal.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Could you please let me know if it has answered your original question? You can either reply on here with a quick ‘Yes, thanks’, or select 3, 4 or 5 stars on this page. I can still answer follow up questions if needed to clarify anything for you. Many thanks

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Customer: replied 6 months ago.

you are most welcome