Independent expert consultation

Independent expert consultation

An independent expert consultation about the constituents of ‘fair breaks’ for security officers at Gatwick Airport Ltd

The Client

Over the last 60 years, London Gatwick has grown from 186,000 passengers per year to over 46 million passengers in 2019, making it one of the busiest airports in Europe. As with the whole of the travel and aviation industry, London Gatwick suffered significantly during the pandemic however following a series of mitigation measures were able to continue. One such mitigation measure taken during the pandemic was changes to the shift, breaking and roster patterns (previously set in 2015).


  • Feedback from unions and staff suggested that the breaks were a contentious area for some staff, in particular security workers
  • Coming out of the pandemic and to ensure resilience for security, Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) commissioned Affinity to conduct an independent expert consultation around what constituted a fair break for security workers, considering both wellbeing and productivity.


An evidence based practice methodology was taken to the independent expert consultation to develop the most accurate picture on which to base recommendations. This included:

  • A rapid review of academic literature to understand how breaks could be optimised for wellbeing and productivity
  • Observation: Two members of Affinity observed all rosters and locations for one early shift
  • Comparable data: data was gathered from two comparable airports to look at rosters and break pattern in similar staff groups
  • Stakeholder data: 3 focus groups with HR, Occupational Health, Unions and Security department to gather their views on fairness and outcomes of current breaking patterns
  • Survey data: A short qualitative survey was utilised and made available to all security staff through break rooms
  • Focus groups: 9 focus groups were undertaken with team managers and security officers.


  • Data from all sources was analysed and combined to provide a series of recommendations to London Gatwick. These focused on the length of breaks and timings of breaks.Following the report, London Gatwick made a decision to, with immediate effect, change some shift and breaking patterns as recommended.
  • The work, given the buy-in and care taken to represent all bodies, achieved the support of both unions and management.
  • Given the work conducted, Affinity were invited to tender for (and work) a large learning and development project to train all People Leaders at London Gatwick.

"Engaging Affinity to conduct an independent expert review of the breaks in Security has been a game-changer for us. The team seamlessly coupled their academic knowledge and expertise with a warmth and professionalism that allowed them to really understand the needs of our people. As a result, we now have a robust and trusted set of recommendations to help us turn the dial on how we support our people. The team at Affinity are phenomenal and I would highly recommend them to any organisation seeking to better support the wellbeing of their people."

Cyrus Dana, Head of Airport Security, Gatwick Airport Ltd

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