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Working Hours

Did you know workers over the age of 18 cannot be required to work more than an average of 48 hours each week, including overtime?  This weekly average is typically calculated over a reference period of 17 weeks. It means that an employee can work more than 48 hours in a single week, as long as the average over a 17-week reference period does not exceed 48 hours.

Workers over 18 can opt out of the 48-hour limit and work longer hours by voluntarily signing a written agreement.


Employers with young workers, aged 16-18, have a different limit of working hours to abide by. Young workers are not permitted to work more than 40 hours in any single week or more than eight hours a day. These hours are not averaged out and there is no opt-out option available. Typically, no night work is allowed either.

There are special circumstances in which young workers are allowed to exceed a 40 hour working week. They may only work longer hours if there are unusual and unforeseeable circumstances beyond the employer’s control that require immediate performance, to keep continuity of service or production, or if there is a surge in demand for a service or product. In all of these cases, there must be no adult worker available to perform the work.

For further advice and help with any area of human resource management, please contact Louise Addison on 01302 341344.

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