Working Time Regulations: Guidance for Managers (grades A-I)


The Working Time Regulations, effective from October 1998, specifies certain limits and provisions regarding working hours and patterns for all employees.

These Guidelines relate the provisions of the Regulations to the University’s working practices for support staff. This includes Administrative, Senior Library and Computing; Academic “Other Related” Staff; Secretarial and Related; Technical and Related; Manual; Crafts; Senior Domestic and Supervisory.

A separate Collective Agreement between the University and the Association of University Teachers (AUT)/ British Medical Association (BMA) covering all Lecturing and Research Staff (including clinical) is being negotiated.

48-Hour Week Working

There is a basic limit on a worker’s average weekly working time: The University is required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that workers do not exceed the limit of an average of 48 hours per week.

Where an individual has two separate contracts with the University, these two contracts, when taken together, must not exceed a total of 48 hours per week.

This average is calculated over a period of any 17 weeks, and includes voluntary overtime. Where the calculated average is anticipated to exceed 48 hours in any 17 week period, the University must have written consent from the individual.

The University stresses that it would not normally expect any workers to be exceeding this average. However, if you identify any such workers within your Department, you must contact Human Resources Services. Human Resources Services will explore ways in which the worker’s hours might be reduced. If this is not feasible, and the worker voluntarily agrees to work these hours, then a written record of his/her consent and the terms of that consent must be kept, along with a week by week record of hours actually worked. If the individual does not wish to work hours above the contracted hours, then we cannot insist that they do this.

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Night Work

A Night Worker is defined as someone who works at least 3 hours of their daily working time between 11.00pm and 6.00am as a normal course. These requirements will therefore not include staff on alternating or rotating shifts.

There is a requirement to ensure that the “normal” working hours of a night worker do not exceed the limit of an average of 8 hours in any 24-hour period.

The average is calculated over a period of any 17 weeks, and includes voluntary overtime. The following example demonstrates how this might work in practice:

Night Porter works 12 hours per night, 3 nights per week

17 weeks (3 nights x 12 hours) = 612

There are 119 24-hour periods in the 17 weeks, minus the 17 compulsory 24-hour rest periods.

Therefore average hours worked in any 24-hour period = 6, and we are therefore working within the requirements of the regulations, provided there is no overtime worked. Where overtime is worked, the calculation must be adjusted to take account of this.

Where the night workers are involved in special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain they must not exceed 8 hours work in any 24 hour period. “Special hazards” or “heavy physical or mental strain” is defined as being such only if it is recognised within a collective agreement or under a risk assessment made by the employer.

Night workers have an entitlement to regular health assessments, and you should contact Human Resources Services to discuss this.

If you have any night workers who are likely to exceed any of the above limits please contact Human Resources Services.

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Daily Rest Entitlements

Staff are entitled to a rest period of not less than 11 consecutive hours in each period of 24 hours during which they work.

Staff are also entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes when daily working time is more than six hours. Staff aged under 18 years are entitled to a rest break of 30 minutes when daily working time is more than four and a half hours. The provisions of the terms and conditions of employment for all groups of support staff exceed these requirements. However, you need to be aware of these entitlements where you have flexible working patterns, i.e. where an individual is working more than 6 hours (or 4.5 hours if under 18) per day without a break, it is necessary to adjust their working time to incorporate the relevant unpaid rest period. The rest period cannot be deemed to be taken at the start or end of the working time.

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Weekly Rest Entitlements

In addition to the daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours, and any paid annual leave, staff are also entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of not less than 24 hours in each 7-day period.

The entitlement to rest periods can be averaged over 14 days, in the form of 2 x 24 hour breaks or 1 x 48 hour break.

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Paid Annual Leave Entitlement

Existing agreements for staff employed under terms and conditions for any of the support staff groups specify annual leave entitlements which exceed the requirements of the Working Time Regulations. However, the Regulations specifies an entitlement of 3 weeks per year, rising to 4 weeks per year from November 1999 for anyone with over three months service. This will include all hourly paid or casual staff (including teachers) and managers are reminded that under our policy on the employment of casual staff, such staff employed for over 3 months should be employed on a fixed term contract issued formally from Human Resources Services (thereby ensuring appropriate entitlements are granted).

Payment in lieu of leave not taken is not permitted, except where an individual leaves the organisation and the terms and conditions of employment provide for payment in lieu.

As a general principle, all employees should be permitted to take their full leave entitlement in any given year, and limited carry-over of leave is only permitted in exceptional circumstances.

Departmental records must be kept to demonstrate that annual leave entitlements are granted and taken, in line with terms and conditions of employment (and hence the regulations).

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Questions and Concerns

Questions or concerns raised by these guidelines should be addressed to the appropriate Faculty Human Resources Manager

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