With some employers finding a high demand for their products /services at the moment and other sectors starting to open up as the lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, we thought it would be timely to take a look at some of the rules regarding working time and rest breaks under the Working Time Regulations.
This will be of particular interest to employers who are considering asking employees to work additional or different hours, although it should be born in mind that employees may have better rights to things such as in work rest-breaks under their contract of employment.
The rules under the Working Time Regulations for most adult workers are:
- Maximum weekly working hours – 48 hours (including overtime) averaged over a 17 week reference period
- Daily rest break – minimum of 20 minutes if the employee will work more than 6 hours
- Daily rest period – minimum of 11 consecutive hours rest in each 24 hour period.
- Minimum weekly rest period – 24 uninterrupted hours of rest in every seven day period or it can consist of either two uninterrupted 24 hour rests in one week or one uninterrupted 48 hour rest in every 14 day period.
- Maximum length of a night workers shift (non-hazardous work) – average length of 8 hours in any 24 hour period
- Maximum length of a night workers shift (hazardous work) – maximum individual shift length of 8 hours in any 24 hour period
There are some provisions in the Working Time Regulations that can be helpful for employers. The most common one being ‘opt-out agreements’. As you will have seen from the above, most adult employees are protected from being required to work more than an average 48 hour week. That said, they can voluntarily ‘opt out’ of this protection either for a fixed period or indefinitely by signing what is called an opt-out agreement. If an employee opts out this means the average 48 hour weekly working limit does not apply to them and they can work longer hours, although the usual rules regarding rest, breaks and night shifts will still apply in most cases. If you would like an opt-out agreement for use in your organisation, please contact your Employment Law Specialist who can provide one for you.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that there can be occasions where there is an exemption or a special situation which means that one or more of the usual rules under the Working Time Regulations don’t apply. This can be a tricky area, so if you would like further information regarding this, please contact your Employment Law Specialist.
If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are here to help. If you are considering making variations to an employee’s contract of employment regarding their working hours, it’s important that you seek advice on the facts of your situation before taking any action.