The Regulations provide that if your employee is a night worker, your normal hours of work shall not exceed an average of eight hours for each 24 hours. You shall take all reasonable steps, in keeping with the need to protect your employee's health and safety, to ensure compliance with this limit.
If the work involves 'special hazards' or heavy physical or mental strain, your employee is subject to an eight-hour limit on actual working time in any 24-hour period working. Night work will fall into this category if:
If there is no agreement in place your employee will be defined as a 'night worker' should they work at least three hours of their daily working time during night time as a normal course.
Night time is defined as a period of at least seven hours which includes the period between midnight and 5.00 a.m. If this period is not defined by a relevant agreement, a default period of 11.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. applies. A person will be taken to work hours 'as a normal course' if they work such hours on the majority of working days.
A person works at night 'as a normal course' if they do so on a regular basis, for example on a rotating shift pattern that results in that person working regularly as opposed to an infrequent basis during night time.
The reference period that applies in the case of a night worker is any period of 17 weeks in the course of their employment, unless a relevant agreement stipulates which successive periods of 17 weeks amount to such reference period. This period may be modified by a collective or workforce agreement.
The reference period may vary in the case of a temporary employee. Where a night worker has worked for you for less than 17 weeks, the reference period is the period that has lapsed since the worker started work with you.
There are special cases where the limits on the length of night time work do not apply. These include, among others, the following:
If a situation arises where a special case applies, you must allow your employee to take an equivalent period of compensatory rest wherever possible. In exceptional cases where it is not possible to grant such a period of rest, you have a duty to safeguard your employee's health and safety.
You must afford your employee the appropriate protection should they be required to carry out work that exceeds the limits on the length of night time work.
If you fail to comply with the limits on night time work, the sanctions are similar to those applicable to limits on maximum weekly working time.