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.

Published in…

Updates: For employers: Contracts and incentives | Day to day HR support | Holiday and working time | For employees: Holiday |
Tagged with: Health and safety |

Share this definition on

Other employment law terms

  1. ACAS Early Conciliation
  2. Adoption appointments
  3. Adoption leave
  4. Alternative dispute resolution
  5. Ante-natal care
  6. Apprenticeship
  7. Basic award
  8. Calderbank offer
  9. Collective consultation
  10. Compensatory award
  11. Compromise agreement
  12. Constructive dismissal
  13. Contract of employment
  14. Disciplinary hearing
  15. Discrimination
  16. Employee shareholder
  17. Employment tribunal
  18. ETO reason
  19. Flexible working requests
  20. Grievance
  21. Gross misconduct
  22. Harassment
  23. Industrial action
  24. Injury to feelings
  25. Maternity and parental rights
  26. Maternity leave
  27. Maternity pay
  28. Mediation
  29. Parental leave
  30. Paternity leave and pay
  31. Polkey deduction
  32. Pre-termination negotiations
  33. Protected characteristics
  34. Redundancy
  35. Restrictive covenants
  36. Settlement agreement
  37. Shared parental leave
  38. Staff handbook
  39. Statutory annual leave
  40. Strikes
  41. Study and training rights
  42. Summary dismissal
  43. Sunday working
  44. Trade union
  45. TUPE
  46. Unfair dismissal
  47. Unlawful deductions
  48. Victimisation
  49. Whistle-blowing
  50. Without prejudice
  51. Written particulars
  52. Wrongful dismissal
  53. Zero hours contracts