The Working Time Regulations
The Working Time Regulations 1998 limit the number of hours you have to work every week. They also require you to be paid for holidays at the correct rate. We're here to help if your employer isn't following the rules.
Employment law solicitors
Talk to an employment law expert todayContact us
What are the Working Time Regulations?
- also known as the Working Time Directive - is a piece of employment legislation designed to prevent the majority of workers from being forced to work an average of more than 48 hours a week, or 40 hours a week if you're aged 16-18. This 'average' working hours figure is calculated over a 17-week period. These important regulations protect workers' rights by stating that every employee must:
- Not work more than an average of 48 hours a week, or 40 for those aged 16-18
- Be given 5.6 weeks' paid holiday every year
- Have at least one full day off every week, or two days off every two weeks
- Be given a 20-minute rest break on all working days longer than six hours
- Not work more than eight hours on night shift in any 24-hour period
If your employer isn't meeting all these rules, unless you're in an exempted occupation, it may be in breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998. If so, you may wish to speak to one of our experienced employment solicitors about your rights. Call us on or and we'll call you.
Which occupations are exempted from the Working Time Regulations?
Some occupations demand that a certain staffing level is required 24 hours a day. These include but aren't limited to:
- Armed forces and emergency services personnel
- Seafarers including merchant navy and trawler personnel
- Domestic servants in private households
- Senior employees who have the power to set their own hours
While people in these occupations may regularly have to exceed 48 hours of work in an average week, these are very much exceptions to the rule. People in 'ordinary' occupations such as office work or factory work should never be asked to exceed the 48 hour average hours figure.
It may be the case that you've already agreed to 'opt out' of working a maximum of a 48 hour working week with your employer. However, you can change your mind, provided that you give your employer the correct notice.
Does the Working Time Directive affect holiday pay?
The Working Time Directive states that every employee is entitled to receive 5.6 weeks' paid leave every year. Importantly, this holiday pay should include all regular overtime, commission and bonuses that any worker would normally receive when they aren't on holiday. We explain how that works in .
It's also important to know that you're entitled to receive paid holidays even if you're on a zero Hours contract. The calculation is that you accrue 12.05% of holiday accrual for every hour you work under your Zero Hours contract.
How much you receive when you've accrued a week's holiday will then be based on an average of your weekly earnings over the last 12 weeks in which you were paid. You can find more details about how holiday pay is calculated on the ; and if you believe that your rights to holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations are not being met by your employer, speak to one of our experienced employment solicitors today.
Meet the employment law experts
Our employment team have an excellent reputation and are highly recognised as specialist by the leading independent legal directories.
I would 100% recommend Slater and Gordon if you need any help in employment law. They offer an incredible service. H L (employment case)
The Manchester Office has been very professional, helpful and prompt when dealing with a settlement agreement regarding my voluntary redundancy. I would have no hesitation in recommending Slater and Gordon for any employment law issue. D M (employment case)
I am very happy with the service provided which was professional, quick and efficient. I would certainly recommend Slater and Gordon Lawyers should any chance arise. Huge thank you! V K (employment case)