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Hours of work

Updating author: Nicky Stibbs

Summary

  • Adult workers have the legal right to refuse to work more than an average of 48 hours a week, calculated over a reference period of 17 consecutive weeks; however, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. (See Meaning of "worker" and Adult workers)
  • Adult night workers may refuse to work at night for more than an average of eight hours in any 24-hour period, calculated over a reference period of 17 consecutive weeks. They may not be required to work more than an average of 48 hours a week over that same reference period. (See Night work)
  • The 17-week reference period used to calculate a worker's average weekly hours (whether at night or otherwise) may be increased to 26 weeks or up to 52 weeks in prescribed circumstances. (See Adult workers)
  • An adult worker may opt out of the maximum 48-hour week as long as he or she does so voluntarily and in writing. This is an individual decision that cannot be overridden by any contrary term in the worker's contract or in a collective or workforce agreement. (See Voluntary opt-outs)
  • Young workers under the age of 18 may not be employed for more than 40 hours a week or for more than eight hours on any day. (See Young workers)
  • Subject to certain exceptions, young workers under the age of 18 may not be employed at night between 10 pm and 6 am (or 11 pm and 7 am where their contract requires them to work after 10 pm). (See Night work)
  • Adult workers assigned or transferred to night work are entitled to free health assessments, and night workers under the age of 18 are entitled to free "health and capacities" assessments. (See Health assessments for night workers)
  • On a doctor's advice, a worker experiencing health problems associated with night work must, if possible, be transferred to suitable day work. (See Health assessments for night workers)
  • For these purposes, a "worker" is either a person who is employed under a contract of employment or a person (such as a casual, seasonal or temporary worker, or an agency "temp") who undertakes to do or perform work personally for an employer. The term does not apply to a person who is genuinely self-employed (See Meaning of "worker").
  • Under the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/639) drivers and other mobile workers in the road transport sector who are subject to Regulation 561/2006/EC may not work more than an average 48-hour week, nor more than 60 hours in one week. (See Road transport sector)

Sector resources

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