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Hours of Work

General

Standard hours

Monday to Friday between 8:00 or 9:00 am to 4:00 to 5:00 pm and 1-hour lunch. Usually 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week.

However, due to new working ways and flexible forms of work, this can vary between organisations and industries.

The statement of employment particulars should state the employee's regular working hours and days of the week they work. It must also specify whether such hours or days are variable and in what way. If the hours are not variable, that should be explicitly stated.

Maximum hours

The average maximum cannot be more than 48 hours weekly on a 17-week basis.

Opt-out

Employees may opt-out of maximum hours regulation at any time and must do so voluntarily and in writing. Although it is lawful to include an opt-out in the contract of employment itself, it is considered a better practice to use a separate opt-out agreement.

The opt-out agreement can last for a fixed period or indefinitely. Any opted-out worker can cancel the opt-out by giving at least seven days' notice unless the opt-out agreement provides for a more extended notice (which cannot exceed three months).

Overtime compensation

If an employer wants to require employees to work longer than their regular working hours, it is important to ensure that the contract provides for this. Companies do not have to pay workers for the extra hours worked as long as it is made clear in the agreement, and the employee is paid at least the national minimum wage for the hours they work.

Sunday working

Employers cannot force employees to work on Sundays unless they agree to it together and put in writing on the employment contract/written statement of terms & conditions. 

Break rights

Employees who work more than six hours a day are entitled to one uninterrupted 20 minutes rest break. This could be a lunch break and doesn't have to be paid. Employees are also entitled to 11 hours rest between working days.

Weekly rests must be an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week or an uninterrupted 48 hours without any work for each fortnight.

Time Tracking Obligations

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires employers to keep adequate records of employee's weekly, night work times, and any overtime to ensure that daily limits are respected.

It doesn't cover daily or weekly rest, and it does not specifically require all hours of work to be recorded. Specific records are not required and employers can rely on existing records, such as pay, in order to meet the tracking obligations.

The HSE is responsible for monitoring the application of the time limits on working time and will expect to see records going back over two years (except those who have opted out).

Penalties:

Penalties for noncompliance are not clear, as employees are allowed to opt-out of the maximum hours worked weekly and there's no statutory overtime compensation in place in the U.K.

This page was last updated on 27th January, 2021. If you have questions about this page, send us an email.