Regulations

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.

  • Nearly all workers including temporary workers aged 18 and over are entitled to the minimum wage. It is £6.08 per hour from 1 October 2011 (increasing to £6.19 from 1 October 2012) an hour for those aged 21 and over. For those aged 18 to 20 the limit is £4.98 from 1 October 2011 (no change in October 2012). For those aged 16 and 17 the rate is £3.68 from 1 October 2011 (no change in October 2012). The apprentice rate is £2.60 from 1 October 2011 (increasing to £2.65 from 1 October 2012)for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.
  • An average pay is worked out for each pay reference period which can be up to a maximum of a month but premium payments such as time and a half for overtime cannot be included in the calculation.
  • The value of most perks cannot be included in the calculation and tips also do not count unless collected by the employers and then paid as part of the normal salary.
  • It is not possible to opt-out from the national minimum wage.
  • The national minimum wage does not apply to everyone. Notable exceptions include the self-employed, company directors without written contracts of employment, au pairs working in the family, students on work experience, armed forces and voluntary workers.

How we can help you.

If you need any further assistance with the working time regulations and national minimum wage please contact us.