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Hours of work

Updating author: Nicky Stibbs


  • Workers have the right to refuse to work more than an average of 48 hours a week calculated over a reference period; however, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. (See Meaning of "worker" and Adult workers)
  • 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. 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)
  • A worker may opt out of the maximum 48-hour week as long as they do so voluntarily and in writing. (See Voluntary opt-outs)
  • Young workers are subject to maximum daily and weekly limits on their working hours. (See Young workers)
  • Subject to certain exceptions, young workers may not be employed at night between 10pm and 6am (or 11pm and 7am where their contract requires them to work after 10pm). (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)
  • A worker experiencing health problems associated with night work must, if possible, be transferred to suitable day work. (See Health assessments for night workers)
  • Separate rules apply to drivers and other mobile workers in the road transport sector. (See Road transport sector)