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Employment Law Case Update: Crawford v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd

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Mr Crawford worked as a railway signalman for Network Rail; he was required to provide relief cover at a number of signal boxes during his eight hour shifts. As the boxes were manned singly Mr Crawford was required to continuously monitor his post and be available to carry out his duties at any time.

While on shift, Mr Crawford could not take a compensatory rest break of 20 minutes as entitled to under regulation 24(a) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). However Network Rail allowed Mr Crawford to take naturally occurring breaks over the course of his shift which in total could be in excess of 20 minutes.

Mr Crawford brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal arguing that this did not comply with the WTR and claimed that he was entitled to an uninterrupted 20 minute rest break under regulation 12, or compensatory rest under regulation 24(a) which allowed him to take a rest break whilst ‘on call’. The ET rejected Mr Crawford’s claim, finding that he had been permitted to take compensatory rest breaks equivalent to 20 minutes.

The case was then taken to the Employment Appeal Tribunal whose main concern was whether the breaks provided to Mr Crawford amounted to an equivalent period of compensatory rest. Network Rail argued that in the case of Hughes v The Corps of Commissionaires Management Ltd it was found that compensatory rest must amount to a break from work that lasts at least 20 minutes in order to be compliant.

The EAT rejected Network Rail’s argument that the Court of Appeal’s decision that a rest break could comprise of different amounts of time which together amount to 20 minutes, but rather once the rest break has been interrupted Mr Crawford should have been entitled to a subsequent 20 minute break.

This case highlights that while there are key differences between a rest break under regulation 12 and under compensatory rest in regulation 24 the essential element of both breaks is that the worker must have an uninterrupted period of at least 20 minutes’ rest.

This article is from our weekly Employment Law Newsletter published on 15/02/2018.  If you would like to receive this newsletter directly and be kept up to date with recent cases and Employment Law news, email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.