Limbo Time Law and Legal Definition

The term ‘limbo time’ is generally used in the context of rail workers. It refers to the time period when an employee is neither on duty nor off duty, as a rail road employee awaiting transportation from a duty assignment to the place of final release.

Limbo time means a period of time treated as neither time on duty nor time off duty in 49 U.S.C. 21103 and 21104, and any other period of service for the railroad that does not qualify as either covered service or commingled service. [49 CFR 228.5].

The following is an example of a federal statute on limbo time:

49 USCS § 21103. Limbo time limitation and additional rest requirement.

(1) A railroad carrier may not require or allow an employee--

(A) to exceed a total of 40 hours per calendar month spent--

(i) waiting for deadhead transportation; or

(ii) in deadhead transportation from a duty assignment to the place of final release,

following a period of 12 consecutive hours on duty that is neither time on duty nor time off duty, not including interim rest periods, during the period from the date of enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 [enacted Oct. 16, 2008] to one year after such date of enactment; and

(B) to exceed a total of 30 hours per calendar month spent--

(i) waiting for deadhead transportation; or

(ii) in deadhead transportation from a duty assignment to the place of final release,

following a period of 12 consecutive hours on duty that is neither time on duty nor time off duty, not including interim rest periods, during the period beginning one year after the date of enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 [enacted Oct. 16, 2008] except that the Secretary may further limit the monthly limitation pursuant to regulations prescribed under section 21109 [49 USCS § 21109].

(2) The limitations in paragraph (1) shall apply unless the train carrying the employee is directly delayed by--

(A) a casualty;

(B) an accident;

(C) an act of God;

(D) a derailment;

(E) a major equipment failure that prevents the train from advancing; or

(F) a delay resulting from a cause unknown and unforeseeable to a railroad carrier or its officer or agent in charge of the employee when the employee left a terminal.

(3) Each railroad carrier shall report to the Secretary, in accordance with procedures established by the Secretary, each instance where an employee subject to this section spends time waiting for deadhead transportation or in deadhead transportation from a duty assignment to the place of final release in excess of the requirements of paragraph (1).

(4) If--

(A) the time spent waiting for deadhead transportation or in deadhead transportation from a duty assignment to the place of final release that is not time on duty, plus

(B) the time on duty,

exceeds 12 consecutive hours, the railroad carrier and its officers and agents shall provide the employee with additional time off duty equal to the number of hours by which such sum exceeds 12 hours.