What are the maximum weekly working hours?

Source: HM Revenue & Customs | | 01/08/2018

There are working time limits that state the legal maximum weekly working hours that a person has to work should not exceed 48 hours a week on average. The maximum hours for under 18’s is fixed at no more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.

The average working hours are calculated over a 17-week period and includes overtime. This means that an employee may work more than 48 hours in some weeks as long as the average over the 17-week period does not exceed 48 hours. A person can choose to work more by opting out of the 48-hour week, but cannot be forced to do so or suffer any detriment by not signing. This is known as an opt-out agreement.

There are some exceptions where employees may have to work more than 48 hours a week on average. This includes the following:

  • where 24-hour staffing is required;
  • in the armed forces, emergency services or police;
  • in security and surveillance;
  • as a domestic servant in a private household;
  • as a seafarer, sea-fisherman or worker on vessels on inland waterways;
  • where working time is not measured and you are in control, e.g. you are a managing executive with control over your decisions.


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