Can an employer make a job offer dependent on the applicant agreeing to work more than the 48-hour weekly limit imposed by the Working Time Regulations 1998?
The Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) set a 48-hour limit on average weekly working hours, but workers can opt out of this limit by signing an agreement. The Regulations provide protection to "workers"; but this does not extend to job applicants who do not yet work for the employer. Therefore, if an applicant is rejected for a position because he or she does not agree to opt out of the limit on working hours, the applicant cannot bring a claim under the Regulations. However, once employed, an individual can reverse his or her decision to opt out by giving the employer written notice. The opt-out agreement can specify the amount of notice required for termination, up to a maximum of three months. If the agreement is silent on the amount of notice required, the employee must give a minimum of seven days' notice. The employee can bring a claim under s.101A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 if the employer dismisses him or her, or s.45A if it subjects him or her to any other detriment, as a result of a refusal to continue to opt out.