Appeal tribunal’s ruling on working time regulations puts bus drivers’ rest breaks in doubt

Bus operators have been warned not to cut the time between drivers’ shifts too heavily after a court ruled that they were not entitled to ‘compensatory rest’.

The Working Time Regulations 1998 state that employers must allow workers a minimum of 11 hours uninterrupted rest in each 24-hour period. However, employers can break this rule as long as they ensure workers get certain types of rest at other times.

In the case of First Hampshire & Dorset Ltd v Feist, the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that bus drivers should be regarded as ‘mobile’ and ‘special case’ workers, and that as such they were entitled only to ‘adequate’, rather than ‘compensatory’, rest.

Paul Cotton, employment law specialist at Eversheds, said: “Adequate rest is potentially less favourable than compensatory rest, which entitles employees who are required to work during a period which would otherwise have been a rest period to an equivalent period of rest at a different time.

“However, some significant uncertainties remain for employers and for bus drivers about how much rest they are entitled to. Employers would be wise not to significantly restrict the amount of rest bus drivers can take, and should aim to provide the opportunity for a driver to take as much of the statutory requirement for rest as possible.”

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