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National Work-Life Week Day One: Spotlight on Working Hours

For many employees one of the key factors in achieving a good work-life balance is their working hours. So, is there a limit on how many hours a week most adult employees can be required to work and are there any legal minimums when it comes to rest?

The maximum weekly working limit is usually 48 hours averaged over a 17 week reference period – this includes overtime. Employees can voluntarily sign an opt-out agreement if they wish to work more hours each week, but they cannot be forced to do so.

It’s important to remember that whether an adult employee has signed an opt-out agreement or not, they are still usually going to be entitled to a minimum amount of rest, that is:

  • A 20 minute ‘in work’ rest break if they will work more than 6 hours
  • A daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours in each 24 hour period
  • A weekly rest period of 24 uninterrupted hours of rest in every seven day period or one uninterrupted 48 hour rest in every 14 day period.

Many employers recognise that the above are minimum rest entitlements and choose to give employees better rights through their contract, the most common examples being a longer lunch break or two days off per week. Giving employees more favourable terms really can make a positive impact not only when it comes to employees achieving a positive work-life balance but for employee well-being in general and productivity. If employees are well rested, they are more likely to perform to their full potential.

If you have any questions regarding working hours, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help. It’s worth bearing in mind that the rules for young workers and those undertaking certain types of work can differ to those set out above.