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Night Work

Under the Working Time regulations 1998 “night time” means a period of not less than 7 hours which includes the time from midnight to 5a.m. In the absence of a specific agreement on the precise hours the Working Time Regulations define them as the time between 11pm and 6am. Any individual that normally works at least 3 hours of their daily working hours in this period is regarded as a “night worker”. Therefore this will include people that work permanent or regular night shifts. The courts have ruled that any worker who works “as a normal course” at night time is a night worker. So any person that works on a rotating shift pattern that includes say one week in three working at least 3 hours during the night-time is classed as a night worker.

Night work is generally restricted under the regulations to 8 hours in any 24 period, averaged over a 17 week period. This may be altered by a workforce agreement.

If there are particular special hazards, or heavy or physical or mental strain involved in the work then the “averaging” over the 17 week period is not permitted. Therefore the maximum hours will be 8hours in each 24 hour period.

Prior to starting night work the worker is entitled to a free health assessment. This, however, will not be necessary if the worker has had a previous assessment that is still relevant. The assessment need not be a full medical examination, but should cover such health issues as that are applicable to the nature of the night work involved.

The rules on young workers, aged under 18, doing night work are strict. These rules prohibit young workers from working between midnight and 4am apart from in a restricted range of work places (including hospitals).


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