Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd v Crawford [2019] EWCA Civ 269

Facts

Mr Crawford was a railway signal controller. He provided relief at single-manned signal boxes and worked eight-hour shifts. He had to monitor his post continuously and could be called on at any time to carry out his duties, in addition to periods when trains were passing through. He could take short breaks, which amounted to much more than 20 minutes over the course of his shift, but could not take a continuous 20 minute break. He brought an employment tribunal (ET) claim under the Working Time Regulations, arguing that his employer had refused to provide him with rest breaks. As a railway transport worker, he was excluded from the right to an uninterrupted rest break of at least 20 minutes but his employer was required to provide him with an equivalent period of compensatory rest.

Decision

The Court of Appeal held that compensatory rest had to be equivalent but not identical to the 20 minute rest break. As Mr Crawford could take a number of shorter breaks, which added up to more than 20 minutes, there was no breach of the Working Time Regulations.

Comment

The Court of Appeal has provided some welcome clarity in relation to rest breaks. This decision is helpful for employers if they engage workers who fall within the special cases under Regulation 21, such as security guards and hospital, prison and railway transport workers.