Working Time Regulations

Working Time Regulations

You can ask our solicitors for advice on working time regulations using the question box on the front of our website or the following article may answer your questions.

The Working Time Regulations are the rules about the maximum hours an employee can work in a week. Employers cannot demand employee’s work more hours than is regulated. 

Employees can decide to work longer if they want to by opting out of the working Time regulations but this must be their choice and not as demanded by the employer. The aims of the regulations are to provide better health and safety for workers and their jobs and workplace.

working time

Working Time Regulations Main Points

The working time regulations determine the hours most workers can work.

The regulations also determine the following points:

• Puts limits on the average working week
• The statutory entitlement for paid leave for the majority of workers
• Health and welfare assessments for employees
• Limits on the number of hours worked by night workers Special provisions for young workers.
• Also covers agency, freelance workers and part-time workers

48 hours per week is the maximum average (averaged out over 17 weeks) are regulated to work this is referred to as the working time directive or working time regulations.

In order to calculate working hours it is important to understand what will deem to be work.

What is taken into consideration in order to calculate the working hours:

• training related to the drop Job-related training
• travel related to the job Work-related travel
• Business lunches and meetings
• any overtime worked and paid Paid overtime
• if an employer has requested a worker to work on paid overtime Unpaid overtime if the employer has requested it
• when in the workplace any time spent in a call Time spent on call when based in the workplace
• any activity that is contracted and attributed to working time Any contractual activity that is referred to ‘working time’.

The working time regulations also generally provide employees with the following rights:

  • 5.6 weeks paid leave per annum
  • 11 hours’ consecutive rest in every 24 hour period
  • For working days of at least 6 hours, a 20 minute rest period should be given
  •  A minimum of 1 day off each week
  • An average of 8 hours’ night work in any 24 hour period

Working Hours Calculation

The average weekly working hours calculated over a period of 17 weeks. Workers can work any number of hours provided over the 17 week period the average number of hours is 48 or less. Workers under the age of 18 can only work a maximum of 40 hours per week.

Averaging the working hours over 17 week period does not apply to all jobs for example trainee doctors will average their working hours over 26 week period and someone working offshore on an oil or gas rig average their working hours over a 52 week period.

If someone has more than one job the combined average hours for both should not be more than the working Time regulations of 48 hours. In order to work more than that regulated 48 hours a worker must sign an-opt out agreement. The health and safety executive and local authorities monitor and enforce working time regulations.

Working Time Exceptions

there are some jobs that can demand that workers work longer than the regulated 48 hours a week.
for example:

  • Jobs that require 24 hours staffing
  •  Security and surveillance roles
  •  Armed forces, police and emergency services
  •  A private household domestic worker/carer
  •  Seafarers, sea fishermen, workers on vessels on inland waterways
  • When the worker is in control of decisions, such as a Chief Executive, where working time is not measured.

Opting out of Working Time Regulations

workers over the age of 18 can opt out of the working Time regulations agreement. Employers can ask an employee to opt out but I cannot demand they do so. And employers cannot seek retribution if an employee chooses not to opt out of the working Time regulations.

NB. Opt outs can be indefinite for a temporary period of time. And the opt out must be in writing.

Jobs that are exempt from opting out includes:

  • airline staff,
  • ship workers,
  • travel staff who operate vehicles
  • some delivery drivers
  • security guards who work on vehicles that carry high-value goods.

Cancelling Opt-Out

Workers can cancel their opt outs at any time even if it is part of the employment contract but they must give at least 7 days notice to their employer, this can be extended up to 3 months.

An employer also cannot force an employee to cancel their opt-out, any decisions regarding this must be on a voluntary basis.

Breach of Working Time Regulations

Employers found to be breaching the regulations can face unlimited fines or imprisonment if previous warnings and notices are ignored or unaddressed.
Employment tribunals can also deal with any breaches and order compensation payments to workers affected.

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