The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) are a set of legal rules that govern workers’ hours, daily and weekly rest breaks and paid annual leave. They implement in the UK, the European Working Time Directive which was introduced as a health and safety measure.

Some of the main provisions of the WTR include:

  • a maximum weekly working limit of 48 hours (averaged over 17 weeks) unless an employee has signed an ‘opt-out’;
  • a 20 minutes rest break(unpaid) after working for 6 hours;
  • daily rest breaks of eleven hours in every 24; and
  • weekly rest break of one day’s rest in every fourteen.

Note that there are exceptions to these rules for certain different sectors and for different working arrangements. Different rules also apply to younger workers and night workers.

The WTR also stipulate that every full-time worker is entitled to a total of 28 days paid leave in every year (pro rata for part-time staff) which can include bank holidays (although there is no right to actually take leave on a bank holiday). Claims in respect of annual leave can be brought in the employment tribunal.

Example: Dave’s contract states that he must work a 40 hour week but, he is regularly made to work at least 60 hours and he has not signed an opt-out form. He has worked both days at every weekend for the last six weeks. Depending what area Dave works in, his employer may be in breach of the WTR. Enforcement would be carried out by the Health and Safety Executive.

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Updates: For employers: Contracts and incentives | Holiday and working time | For employees: Working time and holidays |
Tagged with: Health and safety |

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