Working Time Regulations
On 1 October 1998, the Working Time Regulations came into force. These regulations established:
- Restrictions on the weekly working time of 'workers'
- Restrictions and regulations on night working
- Entitlements to daily and weekly rest periods
- An entitlement to paid annual leave
Special rules apply to 'younger workers' - broadly those over school leaving age up until the age of 18.
What follows is a broad summary of some of the more important provisions (and excluding the rules on night working).
The regulations do not apply to some sectors (although the number of these are decreasing). Specific categories of 'workers' are also excluded from some or all of the Regulations including those who work 'unmeasured' working time who are excluded from the 48 hour weekly working time limit.
The Regulations apply not just to employees, but to anyone personally providing a service under contract who is not genuinely running a business on his/her own account. A wide range of people are therefore covered.
- Restrict 'weekly working time' to 48 hours average over a 17-week reference period (extended in some circumstance). 'Working time; is a technical term and is not conclusively decided by the person's contract. Overtime can cause problems - is the employee volunteering for extra working or required to do it?
- Employers have record keeping obligations - and not just in relation to recording their workers' working time. These records can be examined by the Health and Safety Executive and may also be relevant in personal injury claims.
- Whilst workers can voluntarily 'opt out' of the 48 hour weekly working limit, this is not the end of the story - the EU will review the opt out rules, however there is no guarantee that the opt out facility will continue.
- Daily and weekly rest periods and daily rest breaks.
- The right to a break of 20 minutes if working continuously for more than 6 hours. The break should be taken during the six hour period and not at the beginning or the end of it.
- The breaks do not have to be paid unless the employment contract provides for this.
- A worker is entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of 11 hours between each working day and one uninterrupted weekly rest period of no less than 24 hours in each 7 day period. The weekly rest period can be taken as either 2 periods of at least 24 hours in each 14 day period or 1 uninterrupted period of no less than 48 hours in each 14 day period.
- Paid annual leave - workers covered by this Regulations are entitled 4 weeks' paid annual leave
- The Regulations state what the 'holiday year' is, how 'working time' holiday pay is calculated, and what happens when the working relationship ends and the individual has taken too little or too much holiday.
- The Regulation set the minimum entitlement - individual contracts may already provide for more.
- 'Working time' holiday entitlement is no additional to a contractual entitlement.
- A worker has the right to this holiday from the first day of service. It accrues in advance at the rate of 1/12 of the annual entitlement on the first day of each month of service, rounded up to the nearest half day.