Hours of Work and Paid Holidays

The Working Time Regulations 1998 affect all businesses. It is important that the correct procedures are followed. If they are not, a claim to an employment tribunal or criminal proceedings may follow. This can result in:-

  • Financial Penalty.
  • Fine.
  • Adverse Publicity.
  • Unnecessary Time Wasted.

Most adult workers are entitled to the following:- 

  • A maximum average 48 hour week (unless the employee agrees to work longer).
  • A minimum 20 minute rest period after a 6 hour period.
  • A rest period of 11 consecutive hours in each 24 hour period (special rules apply to shift workers).
  • An uninterrupted rest period of 24 consecutive hours in each week, or
  • An uninterrupted rest period of 48 hours in each fortnight.
  • 5.6 weeks paid leave per year.

Different rules apply to young workers and certain types of employment.


An adult worker can agree in writing to waive the 48 hour maximum. This agreement can be withdrawn.

Employers are required to maintain up to date records which identify each worker who has agreed to waive the 48 hour limit.

It is good practice to record the number of hours worked by employees who have opted out to ensure they take required rest breaks etc.

N.B. Employers cannot insist that employees work over 48 hours per week or sign an opt out and employees are protected from any detriment as a result of refusing to do so.

Partial exceptions to the rules governing the maximum working week apply among others to: managing directors; those working in agriculture, or security and surveillance; those whose activities involve the need for continuity of service or production; and those working in areas where there is a foreseeable surge of activity.

Always take legal advice!

These comments are provided for guidance only. Each situation has to be examined on its own merits and circumstances and you should not, therefore, rely upon the above without taking specific legal advice in relation to any particular matter.

Specialist advice can be obtained from 
Alan Matthew in our Dundee Office (tel: 01382 200 000) or
from Emma Allan in our Perth Office (tel: 01738 637 311)

February 2013

Business First

If you would like to speak to us about any services or have and questions please contact us by filling out the form. 

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