The Working Time Regulations (1998) specify the maximum amount of hours that your staff can work a week, and implement the EU Working Time Directive in to UK law. As a rule, your employees cannot be expected to work more than 48 hours a week, averaged over a 17 week period.
However, if your staff are over 18 they can choose to work more than 48 hours, known as “opting-out”. Staff can opt-out for a specified period, or indefinitely. Their decision to opt-out must be voluntary, and put in writing. As an employer you can ask your staff to opt-out, but cannot insist that they do. Staff who do not wish to opt-out cannot be sacked or treated unfairly for refusing.
There are certain exceptions to who can opt-out however; usually based around safety issues. Your employees cannot opt-out of the 48 hour week if they are:
- Under 18
- Airline staff
- A worker on ships or boats
- A worker in road transport, for example a delivery driver (except for drivers of vehicles under 3.5 tonnes using GB Domestic Drivers’ Hours rules)
- Other staff who travel in, or operate vehicles covered by EU rules on driver hours
- A security guard on a vehicle carrying high-value goods
Your staff can cancel their opt-out agreement whenever they want and this again should be done in writing.
To find out more about Working Time Regulations, or how to structure opt-out agreements that protect you and your staff, give us a call. We can start to help you today.