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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49855
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Location : UK. Nationality - British. Im a locum qualified

Customer Question

Location : UK. Nationality - British. I'm a locum qualified and registered veterinary nurse working at a practice as an additional nurse to the permanent nurse who is pregnant. She is therefore restricted in what she can do - no lifting, no restraint of large or boisterous or aggressive animals and no anaesthetic or X-ray exposure. There are no other vet nurses and usually 2 vets, but at lunchtime theres often only one. I have a half hour lunch break during which I am available if required to assist a vet or provide first aid in an emergency if a vet is not on site. have included this in my hours invoiced as I am on site and available if necessary if an urgent situation requires it. Locum vets usually charge a day rate but still have breaks. They are also available of necessity. Locum vet nurses tend to charge by the hour. I'm now being asked to justify my paid half hour.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Before proceeding please note that as I am a practising solicitor, I am often in and out of meetings, travelling between clients or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance but there may be a delay in getting back to you and providing my advice. Please be patient and I will respond as soon as I can. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email when I have responded.

For now please let me know what your specific question long you have worked there.

JACUSTOMER-ommzkvh2- : I am a locum and have only been there 3 weeks. This is normal as a locum veterinary nurse. They have paid my first invoice for my first week already. Which included my lunch breaks. It's my second and third invoice they are now holding back on.
Ben Jones :

Do you have a contract with them that deals with this issue?

JACUSTOMER-ommzkvh2- : No, because my positions tend to be very short, sometimes as short as one day, I have no contracts with whichever vets I work for temporarily, these ones included. (Usually I obtain my locum positions through an agency - they get a daily fee from the vet practice for providing me. My invoices for my hours are charged by me separately.)
Ben Jones :

The law does not automatically entitle you to claim for such time. As a locum, you are not treated as an employee but if you were an employee then these lunch breaks would not be payable unless you were on call and on the premises, as required by the employer. If you were out and about doing your own things but on call then this is not classified as working time and you would not be paid for it. However, as a locum you are usually going to be self employed and the rules on working time would not apply to you. That means that the arrangements over lunch breaks and your working time in general will be agreed directly between you and your employer. Sometimes the contract will deal with this issue but if it is silent then unfortunately you would have to find some middle grounds on this. However, if you are not doing any work for them at the time and are simply on call waiting to be called, it is unlikely you will have a strong argument to claim for that time and usually can only claim for time actually worked.

JACUSTOMER-ommzkvh2- : Hmm, I was seeing myself as available, I do not leave the site so can be called to do something that the permanent employee can't. I need to sit down and draft a contract before my next locum position don't I? It's not the kind of thing I can find a sample of on the Internet, so I'll write it very carefully.
Ben Jones :

in these situations having a written contract is imperative as both parties know where you stand in relation to these issues. I can see your argument here but as mentioned these rules only apply to workers and as a locum you would be usually self employed and then it is down to what was agreed with your employer

JACUSTOMER-ommzkvh2- : So, I am legally entitles to breaks and I'll just have to decide whether I want to be undisturbed or not and find sthg to,back up the undisturbed option. Even if I can't back up the paid and on call option. But lunches and breaks are often an unknown thing in vet practice.
JACUSTOMER-ommzkvh2- : Thank you for your help.
Ben Jones :

if you are self employed you are not legally entitled to breaks, if you are a worker then you are but these would be unpaid, unless you are required (not voluntarily do so) to stay at your employer's premises

JACUSTOMER-ommzkvh2- : I operate as a limited company, does that make any difference?
JACUSTOMER-ommzkvh2- : Oh I'm confused.
Ben Jones :

That would almost certainly make you self employed and my earlier advice would still apply. In particular the rules on breaks that apply to workers will not apply to you and the matter will remain unchanged, in that you are not entitled to breaks under law and these will have to be negotiated with your employer.

Ben Jones :

I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating - your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you