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Not everybody gets strawberries and cream


What is the news?

Cleaning staff employed by All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) claim they were forced to take food from bins because they were given insufficient money to buy lunch and dinner while working at Wimbledon. They have also complained about conditions they endured during their breaks including having insufficient time and having to crouch in corridors (due to a lack of official break areas).

What does the news mean?

The media have portrayed AELTC as being in breach of their legal obligations by failing to provide employees with a food allowance and rest breaks.

However, AELTC have responded saying that:

‘We acknowledge that during Wimbledon there is a flexible schedule, therefore in addition to employees’ contracted breaks, when extended hours are required, we look to support our colleagues through providing an additional meal allowance and breaks where possible’.

What do we think of the news?

So, have they actually done anything wrong?

Strictly speaking, no liability will fall to a company engaging workers as long as they are compliant with their minimum wage, working time and health and safety obligations. There is no legal requirement to provide an allowance for food or other expenses; it is the company’s discretion should they wish to do so. Of course, supporting employees (be that through financial incentives or otherwise) is more likely to improve employee engagement and retention.

Any company/individual who engages workers or employees must ensure that working time and health and safety laws are complied with. Those over 18 are entitled to the right to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break (paid or unpaid depending on the employment) during the day if working more than 6 hours a day. In the case of the cleaners in question therefore, 1 hour in 12/15 hours is actually compliant with the law.

Employers/companies are also not required to provide a place for breaks; however they are required to ensure the workers have a safe working environment.

If you would like to talk through any concerns you may have on the rights of workers and employees you can contact Associate, Siobhan Howard-Palmer on T: 0161 358 0537 or E: siobhanhoward-palmer@hrclaw.co.uk.

If you are an employer, our Business Protection Seminar on ‘Employee Engagement’ will give you expert tips on managing your employees and ensuring successful employee engagement.

This contains a general overview of information only. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.