Last updated on: March 31st, 2023
The Working Time Regulations 1998 contains the primary statutory rights of employees which include working hours, overtime, breaks, leaves, etc,. Other key laws affecting employment include the Employment Rights Act 1996, Children and Families Act 2014, and the Equality Act 2010.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Normal Working Hours
The maximum workweek including overtime is 48 hours averaged over a period of 17 weeks reference period. Employees may agree to “opt-out” of the 48-hour maximum limit by giving written consent. Where an employee has worked for his employer for less than 17 weeks, the reference period applicable in his case is the period that has elapsed since he started work for his employer.
Every employee who has worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks has the “right to request” flexible working arrangements. Employees can make one request in any 12-month period, and employers must make a decision within three months of receiving a request. Employees have the right to ask for flexible working if their child is under 17 or the child is under 18 and disabled. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 4 – 5 and Employment Rights Act, 1996 §80F – 80I.
Shift employee means any employee whose work schedule is part of shift work.
Shift work means any method of organizing work in shifts whereby employees succeed each other at the same workstations according to a certain pattern, including a rotating pattern, and which may be continuous or discontinuous, entailing the need for employees to work at different times over a given period of days or weeks. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 24.
An employer shall maintain a correct record consisting of employee’s working hours, wages, payroll records, etc of each of his/her employees at or in connection with that place of business for a period of not less than 2 years after each record was made. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 9.
An employer shall require his/her employee to work overtime only in cases of written agreement between them, and such work shall not be more than average of 48 hours per week including overtime. Employers are not required to pay employees a premium for overtime work. The only requirement is that an employee’s average pay for total hours worked does not fall below the national minimum wage.
The night period is 11 pm to 6 am unless an agreement exists otherwise. Any such agreement must be 7 hours long and should include hours between midnight to 5 am. Employees who regularly work at least 3 hours during the ‘night period’ are night employees.
Night employees should not work more than an average of 8 hours in each 24-hour period – excluding overtime. The average is usually calculated over 17 weeks, but it can be over a longer period of up to 52 weeks if the employees and the employer agree otherwise.
Employees cannot opt-out of this night working limit. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 6 – 7.
Employees are entitled to a rest break of uninterrupted 20 minutes for every six hours of continuous work. The break doesn’t have to be paid, it depends on the employment contract. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 12.
An employee is entitled to not less than 11 consecutive hours of rest per 24-hour period. Daily rest does not apply to a shift employee when he changes to shift and cannot take a daily rest period between the end of one shift and the start of the next one. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 10, 22.
Weekly Rest Period
An employee is entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of not less than 24 hours in each 7 day period during which he works for the employer. A week starts at midnight between Sunday and Monday. .An employee can also be entitled to either of the below rest periods:
- 2 uninterrupted rest periods each of not less than 24 hours in each 14 day period during which he works for the employer; or
- 1 uninterrupted rest period of not less than 48 hours in each such 14 day period.
The minimum rest period to which an employee is entitled shall not include any part of a daily rest period to which the employee is entitled except where this is justified by objective or technical reasons or reasons concerning the organization of work. The weekly rest does not apply to a shift employee when he changes to shift and cannot take a weekly rest period between the end of one shift and the start of the next one. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 11, 22.
An employer who requires his/her employees to work during the rest period or break shall provide an equivalent period of compensatory rest to such employees. When an employee is required to work during his/her rest period, or rest break, in such cases, the employee is entitled to take an equivalent period of compensatory rest.
Compensatory rest breaks are of the same length as the break (or part of it) that the employee has missed. An employee is entitled to compensatory rest if he/she is involved in the following occupations/activities: –
- The employee is a shift employee and can’t take daily or weekly rest breaks between ending one shift and starting another.
- The workplace is a long way from their home (eg an oil rig).
- Employees work in different places which are a reasonable distance from each other.
- The employee is involved in security and surveillance-based work.
- The employee is working in an industry that is very busy at certain times of the year – like agriculture, retail, postal services, or tourism.
- Employees need to work because there’s an exceptional event, an accident, or a risk that an accident is about to happen.
- The job needs round-the-clock staffing so there aren’t interruptions to any services or production (eg hospital work).
- Employees who work in the rail industry onboard trains or their job is linked to making sure trains run on time.
- Employee’s working day is split up (eg they’re a cleaner and work for part of the morning and the evening).
- There is an agreement between management, trade unions, or the workforce (a ‘collective’ or ‘workforce’ agreement) that has changed or removed rights to these rest breaks for a group of employees.
The total rest entitlement for a week (including daily and weekly rest) is 90 hours on average. This does not include breaks at work, which are additional. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 24.
An employee can be asked to work on a Sunday if the same has been agreed upon in either the employee’s employment contract or the employee’s written statement of terms and conditions. Employers only have to pay staff more for working on Sundays if it has been agreed as part of the contract.
The following are 8 national holidays generally followed in England and Wales, but employers are not legally bound to give these days off as paid holidays:
- New Year’s Day – Jan 1st
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- Early May bank holiday (early May, precise date varies year to year)
- Spring bank holiday (late May, precise date varies year to year)
- Summer bank holiday (late August, precise date varies year to year)
- Christmas Day – Dec 25th
- Boxing Day – Dec 26th
Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, ch. 80; U.K. Bank Holidays.
If a bank holiday is on a weekend, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday. Certain days that are public holidays in England and Wales are not public holidays in Scotland and vice versa. In the UK, bank holidays do not have to be given as paid leave. Employers can choose to include bank holidays as part of an employee’s statutory annual leave.
Employees do not have a statutory right to be paid on a national holiday.
Employees are entitled to a minimum of 28 days (5.6 weeks) of paid annual leave each year. Employees start to accrue annual leave from the start of their employment. During the first year of employment, annual leave accrues at the rate of one-twelfth of a full year’s entitlement at the beginning of each month.
In the case of leaves accrued constitute of a fraction of a day, which is less than half-day, such fraction of a day shall be treated as a half-day for the purpose of calculating leaves accrued. And in case such a fraction of a day is longer than a half-day, it shall be treated as a full day.
An employee continues to accrue holiday entitlement while they are on sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave, and other types of statutory leave. A relevant agreement may provide for any leave to which an employee is entitled under this regulation to be carried forward into the leave year immediately following the leave year in respect of which it is due.
An employee’s leave year begins on such a date during the calendar year as may be provided for in a relevant agreement; or where there are no provisions of a relevant agreement, on the subsequent anniversary of the date of joining the workplace. Where the date on which an employee’s employment begins is later than the date on which (by virtue of an agreement) his first leave year begins, the leave to which he is entitled in that leave year is a proportion of the period equal to the proportion of that leave year remaining on the date on which his employment begins. An employer can choose to include bank holidays as part of an employee’s statutory annual leave.
Employees are entitled to a week’s pay for each week of statutory leave that they take. For shift employees, vacation pay is calculated by the average number of weekly fixed hours an employee has worked in the previous 52 weeks, at their average hourly rate.
When an employee does not work fixed or regular hours and hence does not receive the same amount of pay each week, month, or another pay period. In these circumstances, an employer should calculate the previous 52 paid weeks (known as the holiday pay reference period) to calculate what that employee should be paid for a week’s leave.
Holiday pay should be paid for the time when annual leave is taken. An employer cannot include an amount for holiday pay in the hourly rate (known as ‘rolled-up holiday pay’).
During Termination of Employment
Payment cannot be substituted for days off except where the employee’s employment is terminated. Where employment is terminated and on the termination date the employee remains entitled to leave in respect of any previous leave year which was carried forward, the employer shall make the employee pay in lieu of leave equal to the sum due for the period of untaken leave.
Where in any leave year it was not reasonably practicable for an employee to take some or all of the leave to which the employee was entitled as a result of the effects of coronavirus, the employee shall be entitled to carry forward such untaken leave. Leaves may be carried forward and taken in the two leave years immediately following the leave year in respect of which it was due.
Entitlement to Additional Annual Leave
An employee shall be entitled in each leave year to a period of 1.6 weeks or 8 days (whichever is the lesser) additional leave any leave year beginning on or after 1st April 2009. The leave may not be carried forward into a leave year other than that which immediately follows the leave year in respect of which the leave is due. The aggregate entitlement is subject to a maximum of 28 days.
Carry Over of annual leave
If an employee gets 28 days’ leave, they can carry over a maximum of 8 days to the next year. If an employee cannot take all of their leave entitlement because they’re already on a different type of leave (for example sick, maternity, or parental leave), they can carry over some or all of the untaken leave into the next to leave year. An employer must allow an employee to carry over a maximum of 20 of their 28 days’ leave entitlement if the employee could not take annual leave because they were on other leaves. Working Time Regulation Act, 1998, § 13 – 17, 26 A.
Effective April 1, 2023, the minimum wage in the UK is GBP 10.42/hour.
The above information on minimum wages might not be up to date & subject to change. Kindly access this link for the current rates.
An employee is entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if he/she is not able to perform work due to incapacity for 4 or more consecutive days. The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £109.40 for up to 28 weeks. In case an employee has regular periods of sickness, they may count as ‘linked’. To be linked, the periods must:
- Last 4 or more days each
- Be 8 weeks or less apart
An employee is no longer eligible for SSP if he/she has a continuous series of linked periods that lasts more than 3 years. Employees who are off work sick for more than 4 weeks may be considered long-term sick. Employees do not receive SSP for the first three days of any sickness absence. SSP is paid by the employer and is not recoverable from the government. Employers cannot require employees to contribute towards sick leave payments. Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, § 151.
Pregnant employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The first 26 weeks are known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ (OML), the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ (AML). Although employees do not have to take all 52 weeks of their maternity entitlement, they must take two weeks’ leave once the baby is born. The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
Statutory maternity pay (SMP)
Pregnant employees also are entitled to receive up to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay (SMP) if they have worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks and meet minimum earnings requirements. Employees can claim Maternity Allowance as soon as they have been pregnant for 26 weeks. Payments can start 11 weeks before the child is due. Maternity pay is currently 90 percent of the employee’s average earnings for the first six weeks of maternity leave, £172.48 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 75A – 75D 71-74.
Keeping in Touch Days
Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity or adoption leave. These days are called ‘keeping in touch days. Keeping in touch days are optional as both the employee and employer need to agree to the same. The payment shall be decided beforehand and the employee’s right to maternity or adoption leave along with the pay is not affected by taking in keeping in touch days. Employees can work up to 20 days during their Shared Parental Leave. These are called ‘shared parental leave in touch (or SPLIT) days. These days are in addition to the 10 ‘keeping in touch (or KIT) days already available to employees on maternity or adoption leave.
Eligible employees can take 2 consecutive weeks’ paid paternity leave before the end of a period of at least 56 days beginning with the date of the child’s birth in blocks of a week at a time. If the employee is already enjoying parental leave, he shall not be entitled to paternity leave. The ‘qualifying week’ is the 15th week before the child is due.
To be eligible, an employee must have 26 weeks of continuous service, have or expect to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child, and be the biological father of the child or married to or the civil partner of the child’s mother. The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £172.48, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). Employment Rights Act 1996, ch. 18 §§ 80A-80E; Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (Weekly Rates) Regulations 2002.
Adoption leave is available to parents and civil partners who adopt a child up to 18 years of age. Only 1 person in a couple can take adoption leave. The other partner could get paternity leave instead. Eligible employees are entitled to 52 weeks of adoption leave. It’s made up of 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave & 26 weeks of additional Adoption Leave. Adoption leave can start:
- up to 14 days before the date the child starts living with the employee (UK adoptions)
- when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date (overseas adoptions)
- the day the child’s born or the day after (if the employee used a surrogate to have a child).
Statutory adoption pay is available for 39 weeks, and employees receive the benefit at the rate of 90 percent of their earnings for the first six weeks or £172.48 (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 75A – 75D.
An employee is entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child & adopted child until the child reaches 18 years of age. Each parent is entitled to 4 weeks of parental leave and shall take the leave in a period of one week’s duration unless otherwise agreed between the employer and employee. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 80A – 80E.
An employee who is an employee representative of the trade union or a candidate in an election in which any person elected will, on being elected, be such an employee representative is entitled to take time off during working hours in order to perform his functions as such an employee representative or candidate. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 61 – 62.
An employee who has been notified by an adoption agency that a child is to be, or is expected to be, placed for adoption with the employee alone is entitled to be permitted by his or her employer to take paid time off during the employee’s working hours in order that he or she may attend by appointment at any place for the purpose of having contact with the child or for any other purpose connected with the adoption.
An employee who has been notified by an adoption agency that a child is to be, or is expected to be, placed for adoption with the employee and another person jointly is entitled to be permitted by his or her employer to take time off during the employee’s working hours in order that he or she may attend by appointment at any place for the purpose of having contact with the child or for any other purpose connected with the adoption.
An employee is not entitled to take time off on or after the date of the child’s placement for adoption with the employee. An employee is not entitled to take time off on more than five occasions. On each occasion, the maximum time off during working hours to which the employee is entitled is 6.5 hours. The appropriate hourly rate, in relation to an employee, is the amount of one week’s pay divided by the number of normal working hours in a week for that employee when employed under the contract of employment in force on the day when the time off is taken. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 57ZJ – 57ZM.
An employee who has been notified by an adoption agency that a child is to be, or is expected to be, placed for adoption with the employee and another person jointly, and has elected to exercise the right to take unpaid time off in n connection with the adoption, is entitled to be permitted by his or her employer to take time off during the employee’s working hours. An employee is not entitled to take time off on more than 2 occasions. On each occasion, the maximum time off during working hours to which the employee is entitled is 6.5 hours. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 57ZJ – 57ZM.
An employee who is pregnant and has made an appointment for the purpose of receiving antenatal care is entitled to be permitted by her employer to take time off during working hours for the purpose of receiving antenatal care.
An employee who has a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or her expected child is entitled to be permitted by his/her employer to take time off during the employee’s working hours in order that he/she may accompany the woman when she attends by appointment at any place for the purpose of receiving ante-natal care. Such time off can be permitted on two or more occasions and shall be allowed for a duration of six and half hours. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 55 – 57.
An employee who is given notice of dismissal by reason of redundancy is entitled to be permitted by his employer to take reasonable time off during the employee’s working hours before the end of his notice in order to look for new employment etc. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 52 – 54.
Up to 50 weeks of leave can be shared by parents if they meet certain eligibility criteria. To be eligible for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP), both parents must:
- Share responsibility for the child at birth
- Meet work and pay criteria – these are different depending on which parent wants to use the shared parental leave and pay.
Mothers must still take the initial two weeks after birth, but they can then shorten their maternity leave and exchange it for shared parental leave. The parents will then have the choice of how to split up the remainder of the leave entitlement. An employee can book up to 3 separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave instead of taking it all in one go, even if he/she is not sharing the leave with his/her partner. Parental leave pay is currently 90 percent of the employee’s average earnings or £172.48 per week, whichever is lower. The same amount of leave is available to adoptive parents after the adoption of a child. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 75E – 75K.
An employee is entitled to 2 weeks of paid parental bereavement leave if the child dies before the age of 18 or if the employee has a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The death or stillbirth must have happened after April 6, 2020. The leave can start on or after the date of death or stillbirth and must finish within 56 weeks of the date of the death or the stillbirth. Employees taking the leave will be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay (‘SPBP’), paid at £172.48 per week or 90% of their normal weekly earnings, so long as they meet certain qualifying criteria.
An employee is entitled to take time off from work during working hours to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth, or is injured or assaulted, in case of death of the dependant, etc for a reasonable time. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 57A.
The employer in relation to a relevant occupational pension scheme shall permit an employee of his who is a trustee of the scheme to take time off during the employee’s working hours for the purpose of performing any of his duties as such a trustee or undergoing training relevant to the performance of those duties. An employer who permits an employee to take time off shall pay the employee for the time taken off pursuant to the permission.
Where the employee’s remuneration for the work he would ordinarily have been doing during that time does not vary with the amount of work done, he must be paid as if he had worked at that work for the whole of that time. Where the employee’s remuneration for the work he would ordinarily have been doing during that time varies with the amount of work done, he must be paid an amount calculated by reference to the average hourly earnings for that work. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 58, 63D.
Employers with at least 250 employees are eligible for this leave. Employees shall have the right to ask for time off work for training or study. To ask for training or study employees must have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks and the training must be work-related. Time off is usually unpaid unless the employer agrees to pay it. Employees can only make 1 request for leave a year. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 47A.
Employees can get time off work for certain public duties as well as their normal holiday entitlement. Employers can choose to pay them for this time, but they don’t have to. All employees must be allowed to take time off for jury service. Employment Rights Act, 1996 § 50 – 51.