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Hours of work and holidays

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Working Week

Working week

Employees and workers have the right not to work more than 48 hours a week on average. This is calculated over a 17-week period. They may sign a clause in their contract giving up their right to work a maximum of 48 hours a week, but they may not be pressured into giving up this right. If they change their mind and want to enforce their right to do no more than 48 hours a week they can do so by informing their employer that they no longer wish to opt out of their working time rights, although they may have to wait a few weeks for it to take effect. A trade union official will be able to provide guidance.

Working Week

Night work

Employees or workers employed on night shifts should not work more than eight hours at night every 24-hours. This is calculated by working out an average over a 17-week period, or the contract period if it is shorter than this.

Example: an agency worker employed for one month should not work more than an average of 48 hours night work a week over a 4 week period.

Workers must be offered a free health assessment before becoming night workers by their employer and on a regular basis after this.

Rest BreaksRest breaks

Employees and workers have the right to a rest break of 20 minutes where the working day is longer than six hours. If workers are under 18 they are entitled to a 30-minute break after working four and a half hours. Employees and workers are entitled to 11 uninterrupted hours away from work during every 24-hour period of work. Find out more information on working hours.

Holiday (annual leave)​​Holiday (annual leave)

Employees and workers should receive a legal minimum of four weeks’ paid leave per annum plus eight days of ‘bank holidays’ (national holidays). In some workplaces employers allow all staff to take bank holidays off, but in other workplaces staff can take time off instead of bank holidays. You should check your contract of employment, your staff handbook or talk to your trade union representative to find out if what you are entitled to. 

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