What is a workforce agreement on working hours?

A workforce agreement is an agreement between an employer and its workers regarding the application of certain provisions in the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833). A workforce agreement relating to working hours must be in writing, have effect for a specified period (not exceeding five years) and apply either to all members of the workforce or to all members of the workforce who belong to a particular group - excluding workers whose terms and conditions of employment are provided for in a collective agreement. It must have been circulated in draft to all workers to whom it applies, along with guidance to assist their understanding of it. It must be signed before it comes into effect either by all the representatives of the workforce or particular group of workers or, if the employer has 20 or fewer workers, by all the representatives or by the majority of the workers engaged by the employer.

Any collective or workforce agreement that purports to override an adult worker's right to opt out of the 48-hour week will be null and void.