Rest Breaks and Compensatory Rest

In the case of Crawford v Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, the EAT considered the requirements contained in Regulation 12 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (“WTR”) to provide a rest break of not less than 20 minutes where a worker’s working time is more than 6 hours. Under relevant provisions, workers in the railway transport industry are entitled to an equivalent period of compensatory rest.

In this case, the claimant, Mr Crawford, was employed by the respondent, Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, as a relief cover signal man. He was employed to continuously monitor the movement of trains. He could take short 5 minute breaks away from his work station which could amount to in excess of the 20 minutes required rest break over the period of his shift. However, it was not possible for him to take a 20 minute continuous uninterrupted period of rest. Network Rail argued that it was permissible to aggregate the shorter breaks in order to comply with the 20 minute break requirement. The Employment Appeal Tribunal disagreed. Network Rail was in breach of the WTR by failing to allow Mr Crawford the opportunity to take a single continuous break from his work station of 20 minutes.