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Working hours & rest breaks

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What are your rights? - Working hours and rest breaks


Your employer has a duty of care to protect your health and safety at work and, in keeping with this, they must take all reasonable steps to ensure that you have a certain amount of rest.

So, whether you work full-time, part-time, you are a casual worker, or you are doing an apprenticeship, you have rights as to the maximum number of hours you can be made to work each week, and the minimum rest breaks you are allowed.

 

As a student, what hours can you be required to work?

You cannot be required to work for more than 48 hours a week on average. That said, you can agree with your employer to work longer hours by signing an ‘opt out’. But don't worry, if you change your mind you can always opt back in by giving 3 months’ notice.

 

What rest breaks are you entitled to?

If you are over 18 you are entitled to certain rest breaks at work, which may include:

An uninterrupted 20-minute break if you’ve worked more than a six hour shift. The break should be during the six hours period, not simply tagged on at the end

At least 11 hours’ uninterrupted rest between working days. However, there may be times when this isn’t possible, in which case your employer must make sure you get the appropriate rest at another time.

A minimum amount of rest during the working week – either an uninterrupted 24 hours each week, or if that’s not possible, an uninterrupted 48 hours each fortnight

The rules about working hours and breaks are complex and can depend on the type of work you are doing. Different rules also apply if you are under 18.

 

How Which? Legal can help

If you’ve got a question about your hours, or the rest breaks you are (or aren’t) being given, our solicitors can explain your rights and and walk you through your options. We’ll:

  • listen to what’s happened
  • help you understand your contract, and your rights
  • discuss your options and the time limits for bringing any claims

 

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Brendan Donohue Sq Brendan Donohue Brendan joined Which? in 2018 and is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association. See profile
Duncan Snook Sq Duncan Snook Duncan joined Which? as an employment law specialist in May 2018. He has over 10 years of experience as an employment solicitor in private practice. See profile
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