Shift Workers – How much time to Work? Take a Break!

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The legal number of hours between shifts that a worker is able to take is determined by the Working Time Regulations 1998. They state that the minimum rest period in any 24-hour period should not be less than eleven consecutive hours. Therefore, workers are entitled to at least 11 hours rest per day, at least one day off each week and a rest break during the shift if it is longer than six hours of a minimum of 20 minutes. An employer cannot insist that a worker works more than 48 hours per week. Any more than this is voluntary and subject to an “Opt Out” agreement. Do note, however, that for night workers, there is a maximum of 8 hours work in any 24 hours on average and a right to free health assessments. Mobile workers are subject to a variation of these rules under the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations that came into force last year. Also, with regard to paid annual leave, a week’s leave needs to be the same amount of time as their working week – for example if someone works 5 days a week, they are entitled to 20 days leave; or 12 days leave if they work 3 days a week. You can visit the DTI website for more information on the Working Time Regulations and the rules for averaging out the above time limits over a period of time, or for peace of mind, contact us for further guidance.

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