Give it a Rest

Regulation 12 of the Working Time Regulations provides that an employee must have a rest break where “daily working time is more than six hours”, which must be for an “uninterrupted period of not less than 20 minutes.” There is provision for “compensatory rest” under Regulation 24, which applies where it is not possible to have 20 minute breaks but this only applies to limited “special” cases, and this includes cases extending to rail transport workers.

In the case of Crawford v Network Infrastructure Ltd [2018] IRLR 17, Mr Crawford was a railway signalman who worked long shifts during which he had regular five minute breaks and, over the course of a normal shift, these breaks cumulatively amounted to much more than the 20 minutes required under the Regulations. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that this was not enough to satisfy either Regulation 12 or the provisions for compensatory rest under Regulation 24 since there had to be a continuous period of rest of 20 minutes.

This serves as a reminder to all employers that, for employees working more than six hours, there must be a continuous rest period of at least 20 minutes. It is not sufficient to give employees a number of shorter periods of rest which amount to or exceed 20 minutes.