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Employment law guide

Working Time Regulations

The Working Time Regulations 1998, Working Time Regulations 1999, Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2002, and Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003, implement the 1993 EC Working Time Directive into English law. The Working Time Regulations apply to most workers, but there are certain exceptions.

The main provisions are:

The 48 hour week

A limit on average weekly working time to 48 hours. Individual workers can choose to agree to work more than the 48-hour average weekly limit, but the agreement has to be in writing and it must allow the worker to end it. An agreement can have a notice period of up to three months, but if no notice period is specified, only seven days’ written notice will be required. The agreement may be included in the written contract of employment or form a separate written agreement.

Night workers

A limit on night workers’ average normal daily working time to 8 hours, and a requirement to offer health assessments to night workers.

Rest periods

Minimum daily and weekly rest periods of 11 hours rest a day and a right to a day off a week. Rest breaks at work of at least 20 minutes if the working day is longer than six hours.

Annual leave

In the UK there is a right to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave capped at 28 days.