Working Time Regulations Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my employer make me sign an opt-out agreement?

No. Any opt-out must be agreed to. You cannot be fairly dismissed or subject to a detriment if you refuse to sign it.

What should an employer do about a worker with a second job?

If a worker is known to have a second job, an employer should ask the worker to consider signing an opt-out agreement if the total time worked is in excess of 48 hours a week. If a worker does not wish to sign an opt-out in this situation, the worker should consider reducing their hours to comply with the 48-hour limit.

More generally, employers may wish to make an enquiry of their workforce about any additional employment. However, if a worker does not tell an employer about other employment and the employer has no reason to suspect that the worker has another job, it is extremely unlikely that the employer would be found not to have complied.

As a worker, do I have to have a health assessment?

No. But your employer must still offer you one before you become a night worker and thereafter on a regular basis.

Are workers paid for rest breaks?

This is up to the employer and the worker to agree between them. In many cases this will be determined by the existing contract.

Are bank holidays additional to my annual leave?

No. If you take a bank holiday as a paid leave, it will count as one day of your annual leave under the regulations. There is no statutory right to take bank holidays off or receive payment for them, though you may have a right to do so under your contract of employment.

Can I take my leave when I want?

You do not have the right to take leave any time you choose. Your employer must agree your leave times, although he or she must also agree to give you leave at some point during the year.

I have a number of workers working long hours – I am not sure whether they think this is expected of them or whether they are working voluntarily. As an employer, what should I do?

It is suggested that an employer make it clear to workers that they are not expected to work beyond the hours fixed in their terms and conditions. If this is made clear and workers are not required to work beyond these hours, it would be reasonable to assume that, unless workers indicate otherwise, the additional hours are voluntary and fall within the scope of the partly unmeasured working time exception.

I have a member of staff who has not taken her paid annual leave, but is going on maternity leave soon. How will annual leave and maternity leave interact?

Annual leave cannot be taken at the same time as maternity leave. Before an employee goes on maternity leave she may wish to consider taking any outstanding leave for the relevant leave year and perhaps delay the start of her maternity leave. Alternatively, it may, depending upon the length of the maternity leave, be possible for her to take annual leave in the period between the expiration of the maternity leave and the expiration of the leave year. For example, a pregnant employee may start her maternity leave slightly earlier (but not sooner than 11 weeks before the expected week confinement) and then take her annual leave immediately after her period of maternity leave.

I run a small business; if I want to close my business for a certain length of time, do I have to pay holiday pay to my workers whilst my business is closed?

Employers have the right to set the times that their workers take their annual leave, for example, during a Christmas shutdown. Holiday pay would have to be paid to their workers, providing they had not exhausted their leave entitlement for the current leave year.

I am a HGV driver. What provisions of the Working Time Regulations will apply to me?

You would be entitled to paid annual leave and health assessments if a night worker. Specific provisions on rest entitlements and working time limits for HGV drivers will come into effect when the Road Transport Directive is implemented in March 2005.

I am about to take paid paternity leave. Can I receive my paid annual leave at the same time?

No. You cannot receive paternity leave payment and paid annual leave for the same period of time.

I employ a 16-year old apprentice who works alongside me. I work a 9-hour day. Can my apprentice work the same hours as me?

Young workers (i.e. 16 and 17 year olds) can only work a maximum 8-hour day. However, any breaks that a young worker receives are not classed as working time.

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