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Hours of Work

An employee’s normal hours of work is one of the pieces of information that has to be put in writing to the employee by no later than the day of the commencement of the employment.

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 there is a cap on the hrs of work that a worker may work in a week. The limit is set at 48 hours per week. There are some important exemptions to this restriction. In particular those people, whose working time is not measured or pre-determined or can be determined by themselves, are exempt from the 48 hours limit.

This will apply to many managing executives, and family business workers. The 48 hour limit is one taken as an average over 17 weeks. This enables shorter bursts of work within that period to include working in access of 48 hours in a week, so long as the average still comes within the 48 hours limit.

Working time is defined as including any period in which the individual is actually working, at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his/her activities or duties, plus any period of relevant training. Such training will include any work experience or training course or programme of training for employment. The working time also includes business travel time (but not normal travel to usual workplace from home and back). Time spent “on –call” will count as working time if spent at the work place, even if not actually performing work for some of that time. If the individual “on-call” can genuinely pursue his/her interests away from the work place, any such time spent away from actual work will NOT count as working time. These rules may pose particular problems for nursing homes and other organisations providing 24 hour care services.

Under the Working Time Regulations it is permissible for individuals to opt-out of the 48 hour limit.

Rest breaks do not count as working time under the regulations. The Working Time Regulations also stipulate minimum daily rest breaks, weekly rest breaks, and a minimum break entitlement during a working day.

There are distinct rules on night work, and the limits on night work. In addition there are rules which restrict the hours of work of young workers, and people under school leaving age.


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