Working hours

Disclaimer:  Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. This guide is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law in England. If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this guide, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.

Key facts

  • The Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended) apply to all accommodation providers that have employees.
  • You must take reasonable steps to ensure that employees do not work more than an average of 48 hours a week (excluding lunch breaks).
  • Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks' paid leave a year and rest periods of a specified length in each working day and in each seven day period.
  • You need to keep sufficient records to show that you are complying with the regulations.

 

Working time regulations

Are the regulations relevant to me?

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended) apply to any accommodation providers that have employees, however small the business.

 

What employees are covered by the regulations?

Anyone who is working for you (including trainees and those under 18 (young workers), but excluding the genuinely self-employed).

 

What are the requirements?

Working time 

You are responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure that employees do not work more than an average of 48 hours a week, excluding lunch breaks. (The number of hours worked each week should be averaged out over 17 weeks).

  • Employees can choose to work longer, but the agreement must be in writing and signed by the worker. This is known as a Working Time Regulations Opt-Out Agreement.
  • Young employees may not ordinarily work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. There is no opt-out possible from the young workers’ limitations.

 

Night-time workers

You are also responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure that any night workers do not work on average more than eight hours in 24. There is no opt-out from the night work limits. Night workers are those who normally work at least three hours between 23:00 and 06:00.

  • You must offer a free health assessment to a night worker before they start working nights and on a regular basis to ensure they are fit for night work.
  • Young workers may not ordinarily work between 22:00 and 06:00 or between 23:00 and 07:00. 
  • However, they may work between 22:00 and 23:00 to midnight and between 04:00 to 06:00 or 07:00 in certain special circumstances (e.g. working in a hotel, restaurant or bar).

 

Paid annual leave

As of 1 April 2009, workers, whether full-time or part-time, are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid leave a year, starting on the first day of employment. A 'week’s leave' is the equivalent of the time normally worked in a week. This should be applied pro-rata for part-time employees. For example, if a worker normally works five days a week, this equals to 28 working days a year as paid leave, and for a Saturday worker this equates to 5.6 days a year.

You must set out an employee's paid holiday entitlement in their ‘written statement of employment’. This should enable them to work out their entitlement and pay for any untaken holiday if they leave.

  • Note: The holiday entitlement can include bank holidays provided that you pay them for those days.

 

Rolled-up Holiday Pay

Rolled-up Holiday Pay is where businesses pay employees an additional amount on top of their normal wages over the course of the year as holiday pay instead of paying it as a lump sum when the holiday is taken. ACAS advice is that this practice is not legal.

Further information, including a template for a ‘written statement of employment’ is available on the ACAS website.

 

Rest periods

Workers are entitled to 11 hours' consecutive rest in between each working day, and at least 24 hours' uninterrupted rest for every seven day period (this may be averaged over two weeks).

Young workers are entitled to 12 hours' rest for each working day and two days' rest for every seven day period.

 

In-work rest

Workers are entitled to 20 minutes daily if they work more than six hours (young workers are entitled to 30 minutes rest if they work for more than 4.5 hours).

 

Special circumstances

For night workers' rest periods and in-work rest breaks there are exceptions to the regulations, e.g. during busy peak periods, but workers must normally be given equivalent rest periods in compensation.

 

Records

You need to keep sufficient records in each case to show that you are complying with the regulations.

Further guidance

Guidance on all aspects of the Working Time Regulations is available on the ACAS website.

  • If you require further information about the application of the regulations and for help with matters about time off, rest breaks, paid annual leave and other general employment information, call the ACAS national helpline on 08457 474747.
  • If you need information about making a claim or going to a tribunal, call the Employment Tribunal enquiry line on 08457 959775 or refer to the Tribunals section of the Department for Justice website.
  • Guidance on zero hours contracts can be found on the Government website.
  • Guidance on matters to do with weekly and night working time limits and health assessments is available from the Health and Safety Executive website