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I'm on the committee of a playgroup (children age 2-5 all in one open plan room) and we've had it brought to our attention by the staff about the hours they are paid for a full day/deductions that are made if they are off.

A full working day for us is 8.45am-3.15pm (6.5hrs) with the children being in 9-3. However, it has come up that it was agreed two committee chairs (4+ years ago) that the staff would get paid for 7 hours as compensatory pay for not having a lunch if they did a full day.

This discussion then naturally led to the fact that they are getting paid for over 6 hours work, so they are entitled to a 20 minute break... How do other settings manage this?

We have a small staff team that are all required for ratios during working hours (no supernumerary supervisor to cover breaks) We don't want to be in breach of any legal standings, but can we just class the hours that the children are in the setting 9-3) as working hours? Could we pay them a separate set up/close down amount as a kind of bonus each month, so they 'work' 6 hours and get an added amount for the extra 30 minutes? (not happy with this if the law states 6 hours, they are working more)

I have read that there can be a mutual agreement of all staff to waiver breaks which is written into contracts, and we carry on with the compensatory pay, but not sure if this is relevant. I haven't got around to ringing ACAS yet, but that is next on my list of things to do!

We really don't want to break any laws, just interested in how others manage breaks for those working in small settings.

Thanks!

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Hello

 

We had a hr professional to come in and check over all contracts/hours ect.

 

We work 8.30 until 3.30 with children in 8.40 til 3.10.

 

We all MUST take a 20 min break during our day which is away from the children. I do this by covering one hour of the day with an additional staff member.

 

Hope that helps.

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Yes,It is illegal not to give staff a break.

We are a small setting too so we have to employ extra staff to cover lunches etc. and be creative with managing staffing etc to keep within ratios and give everyone a break.

My staff have half an hour unpaid lunch break if working over 6 hours or if working half a day, don't have one. Staff working 9-4 have half an hour also.

If you say all staff are needed could you employ lunchtime cover whilst still leaving you in ratio etc?

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Thanks for quick replies - we definitely don't want to break any laws; although we are under the current arrangement but equally the staff haven't complained about the extra 30 minutes pay they've been receiving (not that makes it right)

We are thinking of taking our supervisor out of ratio to be supernumerary, which would leave her able to cover for breaks on the two days we open for a full day. Employing lunch cover would be an option, but it would only be two days a week for an hour/90 minutes and I can't see anyone wanting to do that, but you never know!

I wasn't even aware of the 7 hour paid thing until I was told by a member of staff they had to deduct 7 hours if they were off, which started all this! New contracts required then!

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As long as staff are in the building they can be counted in ratios. (that said we always work one over ratio anyway)

Can you not factor in short breaks inline with your daily routine? So perhaps two short ten min breaks (am/pm) rather than actual lunch time?

I'm assuming the staff already actually eat lunch together with the children, therefore do not really need a 'lunch-break' as such.

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6 hours

Workers over 18 are usually entitled to 3 types of rest break. Rest breaks at work. Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during their working day (this could be a tea or lunch break), if they work more than 6 hours a day. Daily rest.

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I guess it is the uniqueness of this job where ratios are required - the majority of other jobs, you stop what you are doing, have a break and pick up where you left off. That's not the case with this though, is it?

Louby loo - I was thinking back to when I was in nursery and I'm sure we didn't have cover for our am/pm breaks, but we did - we joined rooms and did a story time so children were still/safer rather than charging round outside and all staff remained on site for them. These were paid breaks, so if we stipulate they are paid, they have to remain on site and they were taken at lunchtime when children are sitting down, they we *could* be ok? Phone call to our early years advisor on the cards.

In theory the staff sit with the children, but that's a whole other thread topic and I'm not going there just yet!!

Thanks for your help!

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The hours are the same as ours. We just get paid for 6.5 hours. Although we always have a cup of tea /coffee on the kitchen side though out the day and drink when in the kitchen. Loo breaks as needed.

I prefer this rather then a set break time.

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we work over 6 hours so are entitled to a 20 minute break. It would take some time to send one person at a time to have their lunch so we have two lunch slots and the staff have their lunch with the children during these slots....because they are still with the children i pay them for the lunch. I have offered to do it other ways but they are happy with this arrangement. All staff are available to work with the children at this time and we do have a staff room but as i say they prefer to have their lunch with the group.

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Yes we do the same as Finleysmaid, although we are sessional, we have a lunch club in the middle.

Staff are happy to eat their lunch with the children. This only affects 3 staff that work back to back sessions.

Of course they get paid.

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we also have a lunch club between our two sessions - we do a 1:6 for lunch - the staff that aren't covering lunch sit in an enclosed area away from the children - the staff that cover lunch then take turns to have a 20 minute break in the enclosed area away from the children - we were told by our development worker that this break HAD to be away from the children x

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We have just changed our break-time so that all staff stay and eat with the children at lunchtime. We find this time the busiest as we can end up with one staff helping in the toilet area, one in kitchen and only 2 left in room with all other children...I feel this is a high risk time and therefore all staff should be with the children. Due to this staff will now take 20 breaks at the end of the morning session when we have story/singing. We work one member over so we will still be in ratio

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We too are a small committee run pre-school. We are open 9.15 to 3.30 and a full working day is 8.45 to 4.00.

We recruited an extra member of staff to cover lunch breaks for an hour and 15 minutes a day.

It was hard to find someone willing to work this awkward shift in the middle of the day and then to find anyone willing to cover if the lunch cover was off sick.

So we decided to go for broke and now have an extra member of staff working all day. We split this shift in to two overlapping shifts. This means that the extra staff do not work long enough to need a break.

So we have

8.45 - 4.00 session leader (takes her lunch at 12.00 - 12.30)

8.45 - 4.00 assistant (take her lunch at 11.30 - 12.00)

9.00 - 12.30 assistant

11.30 - 4.00 assistant

This does mean that we exceed ratios but with 3 members of staff with the children at any one time we can manage toileting, free flow and behaviour much better. Parents like it and we are still managing to break even.

Needless to say the staff love it....

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We used to have an overlap with afternoon staff starting at 11.45, but numbers changed so that there weren't as many children in the afternoon so we didn't need that member of staff to come in.

There seem to be lots of solutions to think about, so thank you all! Glad to be back and amongst such a helpful bunch of practitioners!

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We pay a half hour lunch break for anyone working over six hours and they stay on the premises so can be called if suddenly needed (never are!) as otherwise we would be over ratios. They are all happy with this and it works for us! It can be a juggle otherwise, there's normally 7 people needing a lunch break so if they took one at a time would be a nightmare!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Think my staff would have a laugh if I told them to go off on their 'break'. We sit and eat our lunch with the children and yes, on our longest days some staff (and me included) do work for 6.5 hours - sometimes longer if we have to clear everything away and set up from scratch in the mornings. But where would they go for their break? We are in a community hall so it's either the main room or the not very salubrious kitchen - or outside in the garden. I guess the 2 of us who live in the village could dash home to let our dogs out. Staff have always said they are happy to eat with the children but maybe we ought to pay for another 30 mins to allow for the fact they don't get a break....... hmmm, one for the next committee meeting maybe.....

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  • 2 months later...

This ol' chestnut just won't go away!!

We have issued new contracts today, with staff working 6.5hrs including a 20min paid break away from the children.

Guess what? They don't want them!! They think they are going to be more disruptive to the routine and the children and "what would we do anyway seeing as we can even leave the premises" Ho Hum.

So, I've called ACAS who were great - officially there is no opt out of rest breaks, it is statutory; even if the staff want to put a clause in their contract, we can't override the law.

Then the advisor looked at an employment and said that there is actually an option where we can "modify or exclude entitlement to rest breaks...." but it isn't as simple as putting it in the contract. As is it a Common Collective Agreement, we would need to create a working party, have a work rep, do a full consultation then get an agreement (ACAS will be able to offer advice on this, phew!) Plus, if there was an incident at 6.05hrs, the first thing H&S would ask is about working hours/breaks, so we are potentially opening ourselves up to litigation in the (rare) event of. Argh!

The other option (which I'm kinda liking) is to do a staggered start/end to the day, so the supervisor would be in from 8.45 (she only works mornings so not eligible for breaks) Then 2 staff start at 9 and finiish at 3 with the children (plus this allows them to collect their children on time at 3,15 from school) The other 2 staff start at 9.15 and end at 3.15, so time for tidy up.

We have an open door/rolling start, so ratios would be covered until 9.15.

The other issue I have is that staff, until now, have been paid 7 hours to compensate for no lunch break. This staggered shift option would mean they only work and get paid for 6 hours, so they would lose 2 hours/week (Mon and Weds when we do full days)

Has anyone got any words of wisdom - should we enforce the break option? Or move to staggered start/end?

Edited by Running Bunny
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My lot don't want unpaid "rest breaks" (they would rather have the money!) and as most only work 6.5 hours then it is almost daft to fit this in without major disruption - they do eat their lunch with the children and get a couple of chances for a lukewarm tea or coffee most sessions.

There is a whole thing on rest breaks here:

https://www.gov.uk/rest-breaks-work/overview

I think we fall into the category of having a "collective agreement" either that or by giving breaks fit this paragraph of the Compensatory breaks section:

  • they need to work because there’s an exceptional event, an accident or a risk that an accident is about to happen -

There is no definition of "accident" and if too many staff are off the floor having a break then there is most definitely the risk that an accident is about to happen! xDxD

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Breaks are unpaid but if you want to pay staff for them you can - it would set a precedent if you do pay for breaks and would probably be hard to get out of that arrangement if finances couldn't keep it up. I know that we couldn't afford to pay for breaks plus the extra cover that may/may not be needed given current funding levels - especially with the pensions contributions looming!

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Ours is going to be a paid break so they have to stay on the premises and are therefore available if needed. Our supervisor is out of ratio, and then will be back in ratios whilst covering for breaks.

When I spoke to ACAS yesterday, they said that the compensatory pay for not being able to take a break wouldn't apply (I haven't written down why) I *think* it's because they can in theory have a break. The compensatory bit covers catering staff, for example who can't have a break over the busy lunch period and would therefore go over their 6 hours.

As far as the collective agreement is concerned - this has to be done in a formal way - it is not as simple as the staff agreeing to an amendment to their current contract (which is what our staff were asking for, and we would have probably given them) You need to have a working party etc as per my post above.

Whatever you do, just make sure you are covered as far as the law is concerned.

Incidentally, the staff have agreed to trial the breaks until Christmas...

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