Working Time Regulations 1998 (Amended 2001)

Key Requirements of the Regulations

  1. Principles
  2. Who is covered?
  3. Exclusions
  4. Limits, Entitlements and
  5. Working Time
  6. Nightwork
  7. Rest periods
  8. Derogations
  9. Paid Leave
  10. Records
  11. Implementation within
    the University
  12. Further Information

1. Principles

Health and Safety is the overriding principle behind the Directive, and should always be the deciding factor in the interpreting the regulations.

2. Who is covered?

Employees and anyone who is paid to work for the University.

3. Exclusions

  • The self employed
  • Certain other groups including Training Doctors, police and civil protection
  • People who work in situations where they have unmeasured working time e.g. people with autonomous decision taking powers whose contract does not stipulate the number of hours they are required to work

4. Limits, Entitlements and Enforcement

The Regulations consist of Limits on working time enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and Entitlements to paid leave and rest periods, enforced by Employment Tribunals.

5. Working Time


  • Any period during which the person is working, at their employer's disposal or carrying out their activity or duties, including periods receiving relevant training


  • Maximum of 48 hours worked per week averaged over a 17 week period
  • Annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave are excluded from the average
  • Employers must take all reasonable steps to prevent the 48 hours being exceeded
  • Employees can agree individually in writing to work more than an average of 48 hours per week

6. Nightwork

  • Night-time is defined as 11pm - 6am
  • Nightworkers are defined as those work 3 or more hours at night time for most of their working days


  • Normal working hours of a nightworker must not exceed an average of eight in each 24 hour period, averaged over 17 weeks.
  • There is an absolute 8 hour maximum for work involving 'mental or physical hazards' ( there is no clear definition of this)
  • Nightworkers are entitled to a free health assessment before being assigned to nightwork. If there is a health problem associated with nightworking, should transfer to day work if possible

7. Rest Periods

All workers are now entitled to unpaid daily and weekly rest periods and breaks, and paid leave.

Daily Rest Period

  • Workers are entitled to 11 consecutive hours rest in each 24 hour period in which they work ( 12 hours rest for workers under 18)
  • Shift workers are exempt when they change shift or when their activities involve work split up over the day, provided they are given equivalent periods of compensatory rest

Weekly Rest

  • Workers are entitled to an uninterrupted 24 hour break during every 7 day period worked
  • This can be averaged over 14 days, i.e. one 48 hour break every 14 days

Rest Breaks

  • Workers are entitled to a 20 minute uninterrupted break away from their work station where daily working time is more than six hours
  • Workers under 18 are entitled to a 30 minute break where daily working time is more than 4½ hours
  • Although staff are only 'entitled' to breaks and cannot be forced to take them it is advisable to ensure that they are taken, as insufficient breaks may be relevant if a stress, discipline or poor performance issue arises.

8. Derogations

Certain categories of employees are excluded from the rules concerning daily and weekly rest periods, rest breaks and length of night work. These include:

  • Workers engaged in security and surveillance activities requiring permanent presence in order to protect property or people, e.g. security guards or caretakers
  • Workers whose activities involved the need for continuity of service, e.g. research and development activities, services relating to reception, treatment and care provided by hospitals or similar establishments, residential institutions and prisons.

However, in these cases equivalent compensatory rest or 'appropriate protection' must be given.

9. Paid Leave

  • All staff have a right to paid holiday. There is no qualifying period of service.
  • Qualifying workers are entitled to at least 4 weeks annual leave, inclusive of paid bank holidays
  • Leave cannot be given as payment in lieu
  • Payment in lieu is mandatory if leave is outstanding on leaving employment
  • To have the right to go on leave the worker must give the employer notice equivalent to twice the amount of leave they are proposing to take.

10. Records

  • Employers are under a general duty to keep records showing that the limits on weekly work and night work are being complied with.

11. Implementation within the University

The majority of staff within the University are employed on terms and conditions of employment which comply with the requirements of the Regulations. The diversity of roles and duties within the University mean that it is difficult to be prescriptive in a briefing note such as this, as to the impact of the regulations within every department. There are however, some areas which require particular attention across the University.

Paid Leave

  • All staff qualify for 4 weeks (20 days) paid annual leave.
  • Part time staff receive a pro rata entitlement.
  • Departments should ensure that all those who qualify receive their entitlement.
  • Paid bank holidays may be included within the 4 weeks leave, of which there are 8 each year.
  • It is important to note that payment in lieu of holiday is not permitted as an alternative to the holiday being taken.


  • Some staff within the University, for example those who work shifts or are involved in work which requires continuity ( see 8. above ) may be excluded from some parts of the regulations covering daily and weekly rest periods and breaks. A record of staff who are 'derogated' must be kept and these staff must receive compensatory leave or 'appropriate protection'. Advice should be sought from the Department of Human Resources in circumstances in which these derogations may apply.

12. Further Information

See University Guidelines on Compliance with Weekly Working Time Limit and Weekly Rest Periods