Working Time Regulations 1998

Guidelines On Compliance With Weekly Working Time Limit And Weekly Rest Periods

  1. Introduction
  2. 48 Hour Weekly Working Time Limit
  3. Entitlement To Weekly Rest Period
  4. Guidance For Line Managers

1. Introduction

Health and Safety is the overriding principle behind the Working Time Regulations (WTR), and should always be the deciding factor in their implementation. In order to ensure the University meets its obligations concerning the health and safety of all staff, the Human Resource Management Committee has agreed Guidelines on Compliance with Weekly Working Time Limit and Weekly Rest Periods.

This further guidance regarding the WTR focuses specifically on the following two aspects of the Regulations where further action may be needed to ensure compliance with:

  • the limit on average weekly working time to 48 hours (averaged over 17 weeks)
  • the entitlement to a minimum weekly rest period of 24 hours per week or 48 hours per fortnight

It is anticipated that the majority of University staff already comply with these requirements. However, there may be some staff, particularly manual and ancillary staff, who, when regular overtime and/or work for other employers is taken into consideration, may not be complying with the above provisions.
These guidelines set out the steps which should be taken by line managers and individual members of staff, to ensure that the University complies with the Working Time Regulations in relation to weekly working time limits and weekly rest periods.

2. 48 Hour Weekly Working Time Limit

2.1 Working Time Limit

As an employer, the University must take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees covered by the WTR do not exceed an average of 48 hours weekly working time, including any time worked for other employers or any overtime.
The only way in which an individual may work more than the 48 hour average weekly limit is if they choose to do so by entering into a written `opt out´ agreement with his/her employer. See section 2.3.1 for further details.

2.2 Monitoring Total Weekly Working Hours

2.2.1 Current Staff
In order that the University takes reasonable steps as required by the WTR, line managers are required to:

  • determine whether existing staff work for another employer and if so, whether their total weekly working time averages more than 48 hours per week (over a 17 week period)
  • identify staff who are working more than an average of 48 hours per week for the University (including overtime over a 17 week period)
  • advise staff that in the future, to ensure compliance with WTR, any other employment must be declared to their line manager

2.2.2 New Staff
When appointing a new member of staff, the line manager should establish whether s/he will also be working for another employer, and if so, whether by taking University employment they will be working for more than an average of 48 hours per week. All relevant University terms and conditions of employment include the requirement that staff notify their manager of any additional employment. Staff with working time in excess of 48 hours per week, will be required to sign an `opt out´ agreement (see below).

2.3 Staff Working In Excess Of The 48 Hour Average Weekly Working Time Limit

2.3.1 'Opt Out' Agreements
Line managers should ask all staff identified as working over 48 hours per week either for the University or more than one employer to sign an individual agreement to `opt out´ of the weekly working time limit. This `opt out´ agreement should be issued by line management with the completed agreement being forwarded to the relevant Human Resources Faculty/Professional Services team. Please see Section 4, Guidance for Line Managers for further information.

2.3.2 Staff Not Wishing To Sign An 'Opt Out' Agreement
As the over-riding principle of the WTR is to ensure the health and safety of all employees, staff are not obliged to sign an `opt out´ agreement. However, those staff working over the 48 hour average weekly working limit who do not wish to sign an `opt out':

  • (for more than one employer) should be asked by their line manager to reduce their hours either with the University or with the other employer. The line manager should document this request and follow-up to ensure compliance with the 48 hour per week limit.
  • (for the University) must have their total working hours reduced to comply with the 48 hour per week limit.

3. Entitlement To Weekly Rest Period

3.1 Weekly Rest Period

All staff covered by the WTR are entitled to a continuous weekly rest period of 24 hours per week or 48 hours per fortnight. The entitlement to weekly rest may be modified or excluded by a collective agreement between a trade union and employer. It is recommended that in the interests of health and safety, a weekly rest period as set out in the WTR is taken wherever possible.
(It should be noted, however, that the entitlement to rest periods does not apply to either shift workers changing shift for whom it may not be possible to take their full rest entitlement before starting the new pattern of work, or security and surveillance workers where there is the need for round the clock activity.)

3.2 Monitoring Weekly Rest Periods

3.2.1 Current Staff
In order that the University takes reasonable steps as required by the WTR it is recommended that line managers:

  • identify staff whose University working pattern may encroach on their entitlement to a weekly rest period (for example staff regularly working 7 days a week)
  • establish whether staff who have been identified as working for another employer (see 2.2.1 above) have a weekly rest period

3.2.2 New Staff
When appointing a new member of staff, the line manager should establish:

  • whether s/he will also be working for another employer or in another University post
  • if so, whether the employment being offered would encroach on his/her entitlement to a weekly rest period
    University employment should not be offered if it will encroach on an individual’s entitlement to a weekly rest period (e.g. if it means s/he will not have 24 hours consecutive rest per week or 48 hours per fortnight).

3.3 Staff Without A Weekly Rest Period

3.3.1 Staff Working Only For The University
Where working patterns encroach on the ability of staff to take a weekly rest period it is recommended that working time is rearranged in order that weekly rest periods may be taken.
Alternatively, it may be appropriate to consider modifying or excluding the entitlement to a weekly rest period through a collective agreement between the relevant Campus Union and the University which will also detail the arrangements for compensatory rest. Human Resources should be contacted if a Department wishes to explore this possibility.

3.3.2 Staff Working For The University And Another Employer
As Campus Unions can only enter into collective agreements on behalf of University employees in relation to their University employment, a collective agreement to remove or modify the entitlement to a rest period cannot be made with another employer.
When it is found that an existing member of staff is working for more than one employer and does not have a weekly rest period, line management should monitor the situation, with particular regard to the member of staff´s health and safety.

4. Guidance For Line Managers

In order to assist in the identification of staff whose working patterns do not comply with the Working Time Regulations, Line Managers may find it useful to refer to the Managers Checklist, which will guide you in taking appropriate action. This can be downloaded from the right-hand side of this page.

Where staff are working in excess of 48 hours per week, you may wish to discuss this with your Faculty/Professional Services HR Team who can support you in identifying whether there are alternative working arrangements which are more beneficial for both the individual and the department.

It is essential that an 'opt out' agreement is signed by the staff member if more than 48 hours are worked (available to download from the right hand side of this page). If they refuse the sign the 'opt out' agreement, you must reduce their working hours accordingly or ask them to reduce their hours with their other employer (where applicable). You should follow-up this request to ensure that the hours are reduced accordingly.