ASLEF Charter

The ASLEF Charter underpins the union's industrial strategy and serves as the symbol that drives ASLEF towards establishing conditions of employment that provide the benchmark for best practice within the railway industry.

The ASLEF Charter

The ASLEF Charter provides a platform for negotiation through which companies can begin to understand and meet our members' aspirations. As pay and conditions of our members advance, so the Charter must continue to evolve to keep pace and reflect changing priorities.

The revised Charter, as agreed at AAD 2022

  • Professional salaries that befit our members' status, with sickness and leave payments to be 100% of salary.
  • Pensions to be 100% of salary backdated to first implementation date of DRI and the total eradication of the integration factor, and total opposition to any further contribution holidays or eradication of final salary schemes.
  • Retirement at 55 with the first stage at 60 with no loss of pensionable benefits
  • A safe working environment, with state of the art technology equipment for our members with a pro-active approach to occupational health and welfare for our members.
  • An average 32hr, four-day week over the yearly roster cycle for all our members with special cognisance of shift patterns and fatigue. The maximum working day not to exceed 9 hours 30 minutes, or between eight and nine hours when working night turns of duty. There should also be protection for our members with a minimum turn length not to be lower than six hours of duty. Rest periods between turns of duty to be set at a minimum of 14 hours.
  • All free time off from duty to be rostered consecutively, to be guaranteed and mandatory by the elimination of institutionalised overtime.
  • Improved annual leave and special leave arrangements with major improvements to ‘work life balance’ so that our members only work to live, with a more pro-active approach to obtaining better maternity, paternity and parental including adoptive leave arrangements to include full pay for drivers taking Maternity Leave for twelve months and full pay for Paternity Leave for four weeks.
  • ASLEF recognises the importance of providing alternative work-life balance opportunities and encourages the implementation of ‘Job Share’ agreements being made available through collective means for our members, however these arrangements should not be used to facilitate or encourage working beyond state pension age.
  • Total job security and protection for medically restricted members. All members who are unable to continue in their role due to ill-health or medical restrictions to retain their full rate of pay regardless of any other lower paid grade or role they may be placed into as a result. The salaries of drivers who are removed from driving duties due to competence-related issues to be protected.
  • The Freight Conditions Code supplements this charter; with special recognition that until freight can all be brought back under one publicly owned structure, there is a need to work towards greater commonality of T&Cs by the raising, not lowering of standards across the various operators.
  • All members having protective arrangements for security of employment, with the opportunity to transfer or obtain promotion with the aid of a PT&R or equivalent and protection from compulsory redundancies, including a National arrangement which facilitates members facing redundancy being able to transfer to positions within other operators.
  • Enhanced training and skills initiatives for all our members to enable them to carry out their public service responsibilities safely.
  • Proactive recruitment of persons represented by our Representative Committees who are currently under-represented among our member grades in the industry.
  • All members irrespective of service to receive equal free travel facilities and improved free travel facilities which may be multi-modal. This to include residential and leisure concessionary travel as granted to active 'safeguarded' staff employed prior to 1st April 1996.
  • No extension of Driver-Only Operation (DOO) schemes or introduction of DOO in the form of DCO or any other name.  All current DOO(P) schemes to be revisited and safety risk assessed with a policy of all trains having a second person who is trained and licensed at least to the standard required to carry out the duties of guard as detailed in the industry rule book.
  • Short-term or fixed-term contracts are unacceptable employment arrangements. However, ASLEF will actively seek to negotiate with TOC/FOC’s part time contracts but not to the detriment of establishment numbers.

The ASLEF Freight Charter

ASLEF is also committed to securing decent working conditions and protection for the thousands of train drivers employed in the freight sector. With freight on rail subject to the pressures of constant contractual changes, ASLEF believes that a strong voice is necessary to ensure high quality employment conditions and rights. 

The ASLEF Freight Charter is applicable to all ASLEF members in the freight sector.

Our freight charter is:


At the heart of a driver's working life is how they are rostered. With the freight sector operating without the same predictability as passenger companies, its vital that safeguards are in place for freight drivers. ASLEF believe that modern rostering agreements should protect the driver whilst at work and provide for adequate rest periods away from the workplace.

  • Average 4 day week with 156 clear rest days.
  • No safety critical duties after 11 hours on duty.
  • A maximum night turn of 10 hours with an average of no more than 4 consecutive in the link.
  • Maximum continuous driving of 4 hours with booked opportunity breaks with facilities provided.
  • Minimum of 12 hours rest between shifts, working towards 14 hours and to include drivers on lodging turns. For the purposes of lodging turns there must be 12 hours clear rest period and a maximum of 16 hours in a lodge.
  • Maximum of 5 consecutive days on duty.
  • No compulsory overtime.

Quality of Employment

Freight drivers are highly skilled workers and ASLEF believe that should be reflected in decent terms and conditions, with strong rights in the workplace. Employment as a driver should bring with it modern benefits along with a decent salary, which extend to family friendly policies.

  • Enhanced annual leave arrangements for a better work/life balance.
  • Access to Job Share, Part time working and reduced hours contracts which have no impact on establishments.
  • Better travel facilities.
  • Improvements to maternity, paternity, adoption and fostering leave.
  • Access for all to a 100% pensionable final salary scheme.
  • Introduction of Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) agreements across all freight companies.
  • Updated P, T & R agreements to include ill health and redundancy cover.
  • A consistent and industry wide approach to TUPE.

Your Working Environment

From booking on to booking off, our everyday working environment has a direct effect on us. ASLEF are determined to seek the best possible 'in cab conditions'. Whilst ensuring that where we have a break away from the cab, it is clean and offers acceptable levels of facilities.

  • Improved working environments and minimum acceptable standards for all facilities where opportunity breaks are rostered.
  • No changes to cab environments or introduction of new locomotives without the participation and agreement of ASLEF.

Working on Engineering Sites

Freight drivers spend many hours working on engineering sites. ASLEF believe that all drivers should have all the necessary route and traction knowledge for where they are working. And whilst working on these sites, the availability of decent facilities should be guaranteed to take breaks.

  • All drivers to have full route and traction knowledge for the location at which they are working.
  • Any rostered work on engineering sites must include access to facilities where breaks are taken. All facilities must meet minimum standards.

ASLEF Recognition and Organisation

ASLEF have 97% density of membership across the rail network. We believe that by achieving full membership within all freight companies and by organising wherever drivers are employed we stand the greatest chance of fulfilling the Freight Charter aspirations fit for the 21st Century. Unity is strength.

  • Full ASLEF membership within all freight companies and at all locations.
  • Union recognition at all freight operators and charter companies where it currently doesn't exist for ASLEF.
  • Robust collective bargaining arrangements that provide realistic representational structures.

ASLEF Equality and Diversity Charter

In 2015 ASLEF introduced an Equality and Diversity Charter to focus the union's work in this area and strive towards our goal of increased diversity in the train driving grade.

ASLEF Equality and Diversity Charter

  • That any decision made or policy agreed by ASLEF, either internally or externally will be done so ensuring there is no discrimination toward any member.
  • To actively work with TOC’s and FOC’s to tackle the barriers that lead to the under-representation of those with protected characteristics within the industry.
  • Develop and adopt diversity policies and practice which seek to change cultures and attitudes within the industry and of the ASLEF membership, Providing where appropriate training and education on equalities issues to achieve this.
  • To actively work alongside the main and regional groups of the TUC, Labour Party, labour and trade union bodies, NGO’s and other like-minded organisations to promote and defend equality within society.

ASLEF policy on mutual respect

At ASLEF we are proud of the diversity we have in the railway industry and believe that everyone is entitled to an environment based on equality, dignity, and mutual respect.

As an ASLEF member you are expected to fully uphold this policy whilst also promoting a fair and inclusive environment by:

  • speaking out if you see or hear inappropriate language or behaviour
  • appreciating and respecting other people’s views even if they vary from your own
  • recognising that strength comes with difference and the positive contribution that diversity brings


This policy applies to all ASLEF workplaces, ASLEF meetings and activities, and all social events linked to ASLEF, wherever they may take place.

This applies to every person attending, whether they are a member of ASLEF or not, and regardless of their role or the office they may hold.


Our message is clear:

We are working to build a culture where everyone is respected, valued, and listened to. Discriminatory behaviour based on age; disability; sex; gender identity; marital status; civil partnership; pregnancy; maternity; nationality; race; religion or religious beliefs; sexual orientation; parental and caring responsibilities; personal or social characteristics, will not be tolerated.

Where an individual or a group of people feel their dignity has been violated, this behaviour is recognised as being against the ethos of ASLEF.

Do not forget that what you consider to be acceptable might not be to others.


How to speak up:

To report inappropriate language or behaviour and to foster our continued culture of dignity and respect, please contact:

  • the ASLEF event organiser or the senior ASLEF official onsite
  • the dedicated head office email address which is frequently monitored
  • any ASLEF representative you are comfortable talking to

If you would like any confidential support please do not hesitate to contact the Equality Representatives for your district.

For further information on ASLEF policy, contact your district organiser.

At ASLEF we work to uphold the trade union values of Dignity, Respect and Solidarity.

You can download a copy of the Mutual Respect Policy here.