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Career advice - Employment law - Working hours

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  • Main legislation covering working hours is the Working Time Regulations 1998.
  • Employers are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that workers do not exceed the 48 hour limit which is averaged over a reference period of 17 weeks. Reference periods can also be 26 & 52 weeks.
  • The limit applies to all hours worked each week so if a worker has two jobs it is the total hours worked.
  • A worker can opt-out of the working limit providing they do not object to working more than 48 hours per week.

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  • Night time is between 11.00pm & 6.00am and includes midnight to 5.00am. To be classed as a night worker, a worker must work as a normal course at least 3 hours of daily working time at night.
  • Night workers have the opportunity of a free health assessment before commencing night work or at regular intervals thereafter. This should be compiled with guidance from a qualified health care professional.

Rest breaks

Weekly: Adults are entitled to one days' rest per week (this may be averaged over 2 weeks) Adolescents are entitled to 2 days’ rest per week. This cannot be averaged over two weeks.

Daily: Adults are entitled to 11 consecutive hours in 24 hours. Adolescents are entitled to 12 consecutive hours in 24 hours.

In-Work: An adult is entitled to a 20 minute break when daily working time is more than 6 hours. An adolescent is a 30 minute break when daily working time is more than 4½ hours. Breaks should not be taken at the start or end of a shift.

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