Jobs with different rules - Working time rules

Jobs with different rules

Under the law (The Working Time Regulations 1998), some jobs can have different arrangements for working hours and rest in some circumstances. This is because of the type of work they do.

The employees and workers this applies to are:

  • those in jobs that need 'continuity of service or production' – where they need to keep working for a longer period of time, for example in agriculture, hospitals, the media, passenger transport services, postal services, prisons, public utilities, research and development, residential institutions, and work that cannot be interrupted for technical reasons
  • those in jobs with seasonal rushes, such as tourism and agriculture
  • security guards, caretakers and similar
  • shift workers changing their shift pattern
  • those who have to travel regularly between different workplaces, for example travelling salespeople

When the job needs it, the rules they're exempt from are:

  • the 48-hour weekly limit
  • length of night work and health assessments
  • rest breaks
  • daily rest
  • weekly rest

If people in these types of jobs have to work through their normal rest, they must still get 'compensatory rest'. This means they must get the same amount of rest at another time.

Employers must still protect the health, safety and wellbeing of people doing this type of work.

Adult domestic workers

Adult domestic workers in a private household (sometimes called 'adult domestic servants') have the right to:

  • a 20-minute break if working 6 hours or more
  • daily rest of 11 hours between finishing and starting work
  • 24 hours rest in 7 days or 48 hours in 14 days
  • holiday entitlement

Jobs exempt from the rule on compensatory rest

Some jobs are exempt from the rule on compensatory rest when their work is needed because of a very serious incident. This would usually be because they need to protect the life and the health and safety of the community.

For these reasons, the following jobs could be exempt:

  • the armed forces
  • the police
  • specific activities in civil protection

Jobs not covered by the law on working time

The law on working time does not apply to:

  • managing and senior executives and those who have the ability to make organisational decisions
  • those who are self-employed

This is because they have control over their own working time. They must still have appropriate rest to protect everyone's health and safety.

Jobs with their own working time rules

These types of work are covered by their own working time laws:

If you're not sure about your working time rights

To check your working time rights, you can:

  • check your employment contract
  • talk to your employer
  • talk to your trade union representative, if you're a member
  • contact the Acas helpline
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