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The Working Time Regulations 1998

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) introduced rules relating to working hours and rest breaks, as well as other issues. This short note is only meant as the most basic guide and does not cover any of the many exemptions. It should not be used a legal advice as it is simply too short to deal with what are very complex rules. Corners have been cut!

Who is protected by WTR?

The WTR protect “workers”, which is a pretty wide definition and includes all employees and other similar arrangements where there is a requirement for personal services such as temporary workers and freelancers. It does not however protect people who are genuinely self-employed. There are many examples where it will not be entirely clear if someone is or is not covered. In such circumstances, please do give one of our employment solicitors a call and we will be glad to assist.

What is “working time”?

In summary, (bearing in mind there are many exceptions), working time:

  • is any period during which the worker is working, carrying out his duties, and at the employer’s disposal. This includes any period during which the worker is receiving training; and also any time which is agreed to be “working time” (for instance in negotiation with a union). If you are on call, most activities undertaken whilst on call are included.
  • does not normally cover rest breaks such as lunch and tea breaks or travel to work (except in certain special circumstances). Time spent “on call” away from the workplace is not included. Work-related social events are not included and neither is any unpaid voluntary overtime;

The 48-hour limit

Where this limit applies, a worker’s average working time (including all overtime and time spent working for other parties) must not exceed 48 hours per week. Failure to comply is an offence punishable with a potentially unlimited fine.
Workers can still work more than 48 hours in any one week provided that the overall weekly average measured over the appropriate reference period is 48 hours or less.
The reference period is normally a rolling period consisting of the last 17 weeks.

Contact Ironmonger Curtis Employment Solicitors for further information.

For business law advice call 0845 225 2635

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