The maximum number of working hours a worker is required to undertake per week should, in normal circumstances, not exceed 48 hours. This requirement came into being as part of the European Working Time Directive introduced in 1993 (see Working Time Directive).

However, under a deal struck with the European Union, the UK negotiated an opt-out meaning that workers in the UK can choose to work for longer hours through a written agreement with their employer.  However, if a worker does choose to claim their right not to work more than 48 hours per week, they should not suffer any disadvantage as a result (e.g. being passed over for a promotion for example).

The regulations explaining the maximum number of working hours permitted in the UK fall under the UK’s Working Time Regulations. These regulations are in place to protect workers from excessive hours (see Working Time Regulations). They also allow for paid annual leave and include rights to rest breaks and uninterrupted periods of rest.

In summary, as well as stating that a worker should not work for more than 48 hours per week, the Working Time Regulations also state that workers have rights to paid annual leave of at least four weeks per annum; to rest breaks during work time and to a period of rest of at least 11 consecutive hours in any 24 hour period.

There are also protections in the area of night work which must not exceed eight hours on average.

There are further special provisions for young workers and for night workers involved in work which has “special hazards” such as heavy physical work or mental strain.

Peninsula Business Services can provide advice and assistance if you need help to ensure you are compliant when dealing with the issue of maximum working hours. Contact us today – call 0800 0282 420, or use our callback form to arrange for us to get in touch at a time that is convenient for you.