Working Time Regulations 1998 

This piece of legislation introduced for the first time the right for employees to enjoy paid annual leave. Employees now have a statutory right to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave per year. The regulations also contain provisions dealing with how pay, during periods of leave, should be calculated.

The Working Time Regulations also contain provisions relating to the maximum number of hours which employees can work per week – currently 48 hours per week as averaged over a 17 week reference period. Employees can agree to opt-out of the maximum weekly limit on working hours.

The Regulations also include provisions setting out the entitlement of employees to rest breaks, and daily/weekly rest. The basic provisions are as follows:

  • rest breaks – 20 minutes rest is required where the worker’s daily working time is more than six hours
  • daily rest – 11 consecutive hours rest are required in each 24 hour period
  • weekly rest – a rest period of 24 hours is required per week or 48 hours per fortnight

There are no provisions for opting-out of rest breaks. Employers, however, can agree alternative arrangements with their employees providing equivalent compensatory rest is given instead.

For an example of opt-out letters click here

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