Working Time Regulations – Hours of Work and Rest Breaks

The working time regulations determine the maximum weekly working time, pattern of work, holidays plus the daily and weekly rest periods. They also cover the health and working hours of night workers.

Employee Rights:

  • A limit of an average of 48 hours per week. This is referenced over a 17 week period. Individuals may choose to work longer by ‘opting out’ and signing the standard agreement.
  • A minimum daily rest period of 11 hours uninterrupted rest between finishing your job and starting the next day (workers under 18 are entitled to a minimum daily rest break of 12 hours). See ‘Exceptions’ below.
  • 1 day off each week or 2 days for under 18’s.
  • A limit on the normal working hours of night workers to an average of 8 hours in each 24 hour period (this is averaged over a 17 week reference period).
  • If you are an agency worker then the employer you are working for, not the agency that employs you, is responsible for ensuring that you do not work more than 48 hours per week unless you have signed the 48 hour opt out agreement.
  • Subject to the exceptions detailed below, a 20 minute unpaid rest break if the working day is longer than 6 hours. The rest break is 30 minutes for workers under the age of 18 if their work lasts more than 4.5 hours.


  • In certain ‘special cases’ care workers are exempt from rest break provisions and can be legitimately asked to work through their rest breaks if:
  • There is a genuine client need for continuity of service. Most staff have refreshments and meals with clients.
  • You are a shift worker who may not be able to take their daily or weekly rest break between shifts. The shift pattern may be continuous or not, but will involve the need for workers to work at different times over a given period of days or weeks.
  • The work is effected by unusual or unforeseeable circumstances beyond anyone’s control, or exceptional events, or where work is effected by an accident or risk of an accident.

In these cases you can take an equivalent period of compensatory rest wherever possible. Compensatory rest does not need to come out of time that would otherwise have been working time and is unpaid.

Employee Responsibilities: If you have more than one job you must inform both employers and ensure the total amount of combined working hours does not exceed 48 per week. If it does, you should sign the 48 hour opt out agreement out for both employers. Please note Active would also want to check that the hours you work for the other employer do not conflict with your ability to safely support clients i.e. working a night shift prior to your day work.

Use to answer question 1.2a of the Care Certificate

very proud to be working with...