A Small Business Guide to Working Time Regulations

The law is more complex than you think. Get the run-down on working time regulations here

A Small Business Guide to Working Time Regulations

What paperwork do I need to keep?

Good record-keeping is essential if you need to justify yourself later on and show you were in line with the law. Particular records you need to keep:

  • Records to show you are in line with working time regulations. These should include:
    • Payslips that quote hours worked
    • Records of night work and health assessments
  • Records of workers that have opted out of the 48-hour limit. Records should:
    • Be in writing and signed by the worker
    • Be referred to in the worker’s contract
    • Contain reference to the notice period the worker must give you if they wish to cancel the arrangement (from seven days to three months)

Who enforces the working time regulations?

The enforcement of working time law is split between two distinct bodies. Working time regulations that deal with maximum working hours are regulated by whoever is responsible for health and safety in your sector; factories are regulated by the UK-wide Health & Safety Executive, whereas general commercial premises like offices and shops will be regulated by your local authority.

Health and safety bodies take working time regulations seriously; a breach will see your business issued with an ‘improvement notice’ – essentially a final warning to get it right. Breach the regulations again, and your business could be landed with an unlimited fine and you could even go to prison.

The law around rest periods, breaks and leave is enforced by the employment tribunals and county courts system. Breaches of the law in this area can lead to substantial damages being awarded against your business (capped at £74,200 where there has been an unfair dismissal).

Where can I find further information?

  • Acas: Read this guide to the working time regulations or call 0300 123 1100 for advice.


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