Law guide: Employment

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Working Time Regulations

Working Time Regulations


The rights set out in this section apply to workers (individuals contracted to provide work or services to you on a full-time, part-time or fixed-term basis). This includes employees but not self-employed staff.

The Working Time Regulations (the Regulations), provide rights for workers ensuring that they do not have to work excessive hours.

Mobile workers in road transport have more limited protections.

The aim of the regulations is to impose minimum requirements on employers, while at the same time allowing flexibility for workers and employers to make arrangements which suit them.

The Regulations augment existing health and safety legislation and are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and local authority Environmental Health Officers. Failure to comply can give rise to enforcement action and potential prosecution. In addition workers whose entitlements are denied, or who suffer detriment as a result of asserting their rights, may make a complaint to an employment tribunal.

Summary of rights

The basic rights and protections that the regulations provide are:

1. A limit of an average of 48 hours a week which a worker can be required to work.

2. A limit of an average of 8 hours work in 24 which 'night workers' (as defined) can be required to work. More stringent rules apply to night workers who undertake work which involves special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain.

3. A right for night workers to receive free health assessments.

4. A right to 11 hours rest a day.

5. A right to 24 hours off each week.

6. A right to an in-work rest break of at least 20 minutes if the working day is longer than 6 hours.

7. An obligation on employers to keep records showing that the limits on working hours are being complied with, and to ensure that such records are retained for two years from the date on which they are made.

8. A right to 5.6 weeks' paid holiday a year.

The Regulations also provide enhanced rights for young workers aged between 16 and 18 as follows:

1. A right not to work at night between the hours of 10pm to 6am or 11pm to 7am.

2. A right not to work more than 40 hours a week and over 8 hours a day.

3. A right to 2 days off each week.

4. A right to an in-work rest break of at least 30 minutes after 4.5 hours of continuous service.

As mentioned above, the Regulations do allow a degree of flexibility, and certain rights may be modified or excluded by written agreement. This facility is particularly useful in the context of the 48 hour week, where both you and the adult worker are willing to increase or exclude the limit on working hours.

Please note however, that strict procedures govern the right to modify or exclude the Regulations, and you are therefore strongly advised to seek legal advice in relation to this topic - check the website to see what might be available to you.

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.

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