20 Minutes Continious Rest Break for Employees

31 Jan

In our latest brief our employment law team discuss the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case of Crawford v Network Rail Infrastructure. The EAT ruled that employees must be allowed to have a continious 20 minute rest break. 

The case established that a 20 minute ‘rest break’ under regulation 12 of the Working Time Regulations or ‘compensatory rest’ under regulation 24(a) (which says that an employer shall wherever possible allow a worker to take an equivalent period of compensatory rest) must be provided as a continuous break and that a 20-minute break in aggregate, made up of smaller breaks, will not suffice.

Mr Crawford was a railway signalman working on single manned boxes on eight-hour shifts and although no rostered breaks, he was expected to take breaks when there were naturally occurring breaks in work, whilst remaining ‘on call’.

Although none of the individual breaks lasted 20 minutes, in aggregate they lasted substantially more than 20 minutes.

The EAT ruled that a continuous 20-minute break must be provided. They rejected the argument that Network Rail’s system was actually better from a health and safety point of view than a system involving a continuous 20-minute break. The Tribunal found that it cannot be open to employers to decide as to interpret whether an employee has sufficient breaks.

The EAT ruled that it would be possible to provide such a break by providing a relief signaller, as found by the Employment Tribunal at the initial hearing.

For further information, please contact Lauren Dickinson via email or call on 02920 853794.