Business HelpsheetsBack to Helpsheets
Working Time and Minimum Wage Regulations
The working time and minimum wage regulations apply to nearly all businesses. The working time regulations are normally enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and the Minimum Wage regulations by HMRC and you need to keep records to show compliance with the regulations. There can be severe penalties for breach of the regulations.
The 48 hour working week
The starting point is that workers have a statutory right to a maximum average working week of 48 hours.
- The average is worked out over a 17 week reference period, with 26 weeks in some cases or 52 weeks by agreement and can be calculated on successive 17 week periods rather than a rolling basis if the worker agrees. Holiday and sickness need to be taken into account, so a worker cannot be expected to work double following a weeks holiday.
- Working hours include all time at the employer's disposal including training and being on standby. However lunch, travel to and from work and being free to do leisure activities while on standby do not count as working hours.
- The rules do not apply to the self-employed and a few other areas such as junior doctors and the police.
- The rules do apply to temporary workers.
- Workers can opt-out of the 48 hour limit by a written agreement but cannot be forced or pressured to do so.
Rest breaks and leave
Workers are entitled to...
- On every shift over six hours a minimum 20 minute break which in some circumstances can be accumulated but is increased to 30 minutes if under 18 and the period is more than four and a half hours.
- 11 hours (12 hours for under 18's) consecutive rest between shifts each day which again can be accumulated in some circumstances.
- One day off each week (2 days for under 18's) or two days off every fortnight which again can be accumulated in some circumstances.
- From 1 April 2009 5.6 weeks (28 days) paid annual holiday based on the workers average pay which can include bank and public holidays. These amounts accumulate pro-rata from the day they start working and is worked out on a pro-rata basis for part time employees. From 1 April 2009, payment in lieu cannot be provided for anything less than 5.6 weeks. The holiday pay must also be paid when the holiday is taken and not added to say an hourly rate when work is done.
- There are special rules for night workers who regularly work at least 3 hours during the night which is a period of at least 7 hours including from midnight to 5am and usually from 11pm to 6am. They should not exceed eight hours in each 24 hour period averaged over 17 weeks although if the work involves special hazards or physical or mental strain this is the case in every 24 hour period.
The National Minimum Wage
The national minimum wage affects all businesses without exception.
- 1. Nearly all workers including temporary workers aged 18 and over are entitled to the minimum wage. For 2017 it is £7.50 an hour for those ages 25 and over, £7.05 an hour for those aged 21 to 24. For those aged 18 to 20 the limit is £5.60. For those aged 16 and 17 the rate is £4.05. The apprentice rate is £3.35 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. From April 2018, the rates are set to rise as follows:
- 25 and over: £7.83
- 21 to 24: £7.38
- 18 to 20: £5.90
- under 18: £4.20
- apprentice rate: £3.70
How we can help you
If you need any further assistance with the working time regulations and national minimum wage please contact us.