Employment Law Excessive Working Hours Breach Of Duty Of Care

n the​ case of​ Mark Hone v Six Continents Retail Limited (2005),​ a​ pub landlord having collapsed due to​ overwork successfully sued his former employers in​ the​ County Court for breach of​ duty of​ care.

Mr Hone,​ the​ claimant,​ started working for Bass (now Six Continents) as​ a​ pub manager in​ 1995 and in​ 1998 was awarded "Pub Manager of​ the​ Year". However,​ in​ 1999 he started working at​ the​ Old Moat House where he found himself working 13 hour days.

He repeatedly complained to​ his employers that he was overworked but the​ employers took no action. He had no assistant manager and other staff members,​ who left,​ including two chefs and an​ administrative worker,​ were never replaced.

Mr Hone,​ who had refused to​ sign a​ clause opting out of​ EU legislation that limits the​ number of​ hours an​ employee works,​ began suffering from headaches and insomnia. in​ May 2000,​ he collapsed at​ work suffering from an​ anxiety disorder. in​ 2004,​ Mr Hone sued Bass for breaching the​ duty of​ care owed to​ him as​ an​ employee.

The first instance court ( Swansea County Court ) held that:

Bass had not taken reasonable steps to​ ensure that Mr Hone did not work over 48 hours,​ which was likely to​ cause injury to​ his health,​ and that resources were available to​ employ more support staff for him; and
Bass should pay Mr Hone £21,​000 in​ damages.
Six Continents (formerly Bass) appealed this decision to​ the​ Court of​ Appeal who upheld the​ Swansea County Court's judgment.

Comment: This case highlights the​ importance of​ not imposing excessive working hours on​ employees and ensuring that employees have sufficient staff support.

If you require further information contact us at​ enquiries@rtcoopers.com

© RT COOPERS,​ 2005. This Briefing Note does not provide a​ comprehensive or​ complete statement of​ the​ law relating to​ the​ issues discussed nor does it​ constitute legal advice. it​ is​ intended only to​ highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in​ relation to​ particular circumstances.

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