Under the Working Time Regulations a worker is entitled to a 20 minute rest break if they work over six hours. However, some workers are not entitled to this rest break, such as those working in rail transport whose activities are intermittent, who spend their working time on board trains or whose activities are linked to transport timetables and to ensuring the continuity and regularity of traffic. Whilst not entitled to the 20 minute rest break, they should, wherever possible, be allowed to take an equivalent period of rest at a later time (compensatory rest).
In Crawford v Network Rail Infrastructure Limited the EAT made clear that this compensatory rest must be for a period of at least 20 minutes and that a series of shorter breaks totalling 20 minutes would not amount to an equivalent period.
Earlier cases have demonstrated that there are differences between rest breaks and compensatory rest (for example, it is possible to be ‘on call’ during periods of compensatory rest) however, this case demonstrates that it’s vital that in both situations, individuals have the same single period of rest.