Working Time Regs

Since 1998 the UK has had legislation governing working time. The legislation derives from the European Working Time Directive.

The Working Time Regulations are classed as health and safety legislation.

Rules on working time and paid holidays

The regulations set out statutory rest breaks and place some limits on how many hours a person can be required to work in a week; that said, the provisions on working time are currently subject to opt-outs although it is illegal for an employer to make an offer of employment conditional on agreement to opt-out of the regulations.

The regulations also give workers and employees a statutory right to paid holidays.

Key features of the regulations

  • maximum average 48 hour week
  • 11-hour break between turns of duty
  • minimum 24 hours rest per week
  • 20 minute break within a six hour shift
  • an 8 hour (average) shift for night workers
  • free health assessments for night workers
  • 28 days' paid annual leave (pro-rata for part-time workers)*


*freelances accrue holiday pay from day one of an engagement; where it is not possible for a freelance worker to take the leave during the course of an engagement, payment should be made in lieu. This right was established after a challenge in the European Court brought by BECTU.