Thursday, 20 August 2015

Stewing over tea break dilemmas

British workers are renowned for their love of a tea break, but a Shropshire solicitor has warned they are not a given right.

John Mehtam is the employment law expert at Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, and he said research had shown the average British worker enjoyed four cups of tea during every working day.

“But contrary to what your staff may believe, as an employer, you’re not required to provide staff with hot drinks or the facilities to make them.

“You might decide you want to provide milk, teabags and coffee – and given the emotional attachment many workers have to their beloved cuppa, it could be a sound business proposition!

“But it’s not something you’re required to do by law, and indeed, the cost of providing such refreshments over a year could add up significantly, particularly if you have a large workforce.”

John said providing a kitchen, kettle and fridge could also create potential health and safety issues which an employer may choose not to take on.

“Burns, electric shocks, or even food poisoning could all crop up, but if you have a sensible kitchen policy in place, that should go a long way to reducing the risks, so make sure it’s clearly set out in your staff handbook.

“Tea breaks may seem like an unassuming element of the working day, but throughout history, they have become an iconic symbol of British working patterns, and you may decide that failing to provide the equipment or the materials to make a hot drink would be a step too far.

“Our Alpha employment experts have wide ranging experience in creating bespoke, legally compliant policies for any business, and we can help you draw up a strategy that will keep your workplace kitchen – and your staff – safe, while maintaining a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.”