Key HR Facts – Working Time & Rest Periods

The general statutory limits on working time and the requirements to provide rest periods and breaks are given below.  Additional regulations apply to some sectors such as road haulage, airlines, seamen.

Updated April 2016.   This page may be shared with colleagues provided the copyright and source are shown on each page or extract shared by whatever means.

Please Note – Key HR Facts are given in good faith but do not constitute legal advice as we are not aware of the particular circumstances you have in mind.  Neither the author, the Company, the Directors or employees accept liability for the use of this information.

RequirementLimitsNotes
Rest break during a shift of over 6 hours Adults
Minimum of 20 mins. should be taken during the shift.
Must be able to leave normal workstation and free of interruptions during the break

Young People Under 18
30 minutes if their work lasts more than 4.5 hours.
Only one break per 24 hours is necessary. Payment during the rest period is not mandatory.
Ideally break not taken at the beginning or end of the shift.
Daily rest period 11 hours per day minimum in between work shifts.Individual can not opt out unless a collective agreement exists on rest periods
Weekly rest period - AdultsEither 24 consecutive hours for one day per week or 48 hours in a fortnight i.e. flexibility to put two rest periods together or compensate within x days/weeks.Individual can not opt out unless a collective agreement exists on rest periods.
Weekly rest period - Young PeopleIf aged under 18 must be given two days off each week.
Maximum weekly hours - AdultsAverage of 48 per week, if an individual has not opted out of the 48 hour week.
May be averaged over a set period of 17 weeks.
In some industries this can be exceeded temporarily but the maximum does not apply to the following type of roles:
- security and surveillance;
- emergency services, police, armed forces;
- sea farers and fishermen;
- domestic servant in a private household;
- if 24-hour staffing is required;
- unmeasured working time and the individual is in control of his/her work decisions.
Maximum weekly hours- Young People Under 18 YearsMaximum of 40 hours per week and limit of 8 hours per day XXX
Night workers - AdultsMaximum = average of 8 hours per 24 hours period over 17 weeks.
Opting Out is not permitted.

Work that involves Special Hazards of Significant Mental or Physical Strain -

working hours limited to 8 hours in any 24 hours period.
Defined as an individual who normally works at least 3 hours of a shift between 2300 and 0600 hours on most nights.
Night workers must be given a free health assessment at regular intervals and transferred off nights if certified health issues arise.
Night workers - Young PeopleProhibited from working between 2200 and 0600 or 2300 and 0700
Shift workers;Not entitled to daily and weekly rest periods and shift breaks in the ways above.Must be given compensatory rest periods at another time.
Exceptional or unforeseen event(s) An adult individual may be required to work in excess of the periods above is there is an exceptional or unforeseen event and the consequences are unavoidable.Compensatory rest periods/breaks must be given
Seasonal work surges or continuous operationsThe above re exceptional events also applies if there is a heavy seasonal demand or the need for continuous operations such as security.Compensatory rest periods/breaks must be given
Mobile workers such as drivers, traveling workersTime spent traveling to and from the last customer will usually be deemed to be part of the working hours. Hence this may affect break periods etc. Road transport and rail regulations may impose other limits on certain drivers.

Night work limits do not apply but they must be given compensatory rest periods.
Compensatory Rest PeriodsThese must be given as noted above if an individual is prevented from having a rest period or only a reduced period e.g. nature of the work, finish and start of shift times.Managers should check whether the working pattern allows for 90 hours of rest per week - if not, you should review the pattern as you may be deemed to breaking the regulations and damaging the health of employees.

Source:  Personnel Advice web site
© HR Management Dimensions Ltd. 2008 – 2017