Crawford v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd UKEAT/0316/16/BA

Appeal against the dismisal of the Claimant's claim that he was denied proper rest breaks during his shifts as a signalman. Appeal allowed.

The Claimant was a railway signalman working on single manned boxes on eight-hour shifts. He had no rostered breaks but 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. He claimed that he was entitled to a 20 minute "rest break" under regulation 12 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 or "compensatory rest" under regulation 24(a) (which says that his employer shall wherever possible allow him to take an equivalent period of compensatory rest). The ET found that regulation 12 did not apply and that the arrangements were compliant with regulation 24(a). The Claimant appealed.

The EAT allowed the appeal. They rejected the argument that Network Rail's system in this case was actually better from a health and safety point of view than a system involving a continuous 20 minute break - the Regulations, as interpreted by the Court of Appeal in Hughes v The Corps of Commissionaires Management Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 1061, mean that the length of the individual break is crucial; it cannot be open to employers to decide otherwise on the basis of their views as to what health and safety requires in a particular case. On the basis that there were some shifts which the Claimant was required to work where there was no opportunity for a continuous break of 20 minutes, and that it would be possible to provide such a break by providing a relief signaller as found by the ET, it was clear that regulation 24(a) was not satisfied on those shifts, and that Network Rail must therefore have been in breach of their obligations under the Regulations.

Published: 05/01/2018 10:40

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