I work as lead instructor for a high ropes course. Obviously, it's a safety-critical position - I'm responsible for the safety of both our customers and my team. The problem I'm having is that we don't get allocated sufficient break time - but I can't see an easy way to extend it without making people's jobs unnecessarily more difficult.
Over the summer, most people working on a given day will commonly work 9-10 hour shifts, with the lead and managers more likely to work 11-12 hours. Over the whole shift, the only break we are allocated by management is a 20-minute lunch break. I am able to let people go on extra breaks once lunches are finished, if I need to, but this isn't expected to be a regular thing - mostly reserved for the really long days, like summer Saturdays. Some thoughts:
- This is the UK. Technically, a break this short over a shift of this length is illegal - I'm not 100% sure, but I believe the minimum is 30 minutes every 8 hours.
- Because we have to maintain as many staff available to monitor the course as possible, only one person can take their break at any one time (of 7 or 8 instructors on duty). That means that with 20 minute breaks, it takes almost 3 hours to get everyone through lunch - increasing this to 30 minutes would mean taking 4 hours. Since we start sending people for lunch at 12, this would mean the lead (who goes last) doesn't get lunch until 3.30 or 4.00, which isn't much fun.
- I am not a manager, and I don't have the authority to change this myself. I need to work out a solution with the manager and deputy. They know we only get 20 minutes but I don't know if they're aware that's illegal. I'm sort-of, low-level management - only in that I'm a lead, rather than an instructor. I don't make the decisions. I'm also not legally liable, beyond gross negligence on my part.
- Winter shifts are obviously shorter, as we close before dark. That means it's not as much of a problem over winter - at the very least that length of break is legal - but not getting lunch until 4 is still not fun.
As outdoor instructors, we're all relatively young and physically this isn't a problem. It does, however, make me a touch concerned that our staff aren't getting enough of a break to continue to be effective when they return, which has safety implications that I'd rather not find myself dealing with.
Are there obvious ways to solve this that I'm missing?