Working Time Regulations
Regulations governing an employee’s right to annual leave, rest breaks, non-working days and weekly breaks are known as the Working Time Regulations (WTRs). These regulations are designed to ensure that employees are not overworked, or employed in working conditions that have an adverse effect on their health and wellbeing.
By ensuring that your business complies with WTRs, you can not only safeguard the wellbeing of employees, but can also protect your organisation in the event of grievances, complaints and Employment Tribunal action.
It is also important to note that WTRs can vary between industries, with guidelines specifying the maximum number of hours employees can be expected to work per week, as well as a minimum allowance for breaks and holidays. But businesses that require employees to work night shifts, overtime or on-call responsibilities are particularly vulnerable to infringements of the Working Time Regulations, and it is therefore important to clarify which activities constitute ‘working time’ in employment contracts, minimising the potential for any future disagreements.
Loch Law can offer extensive expertise in providing comprehensive advice to employers on WTRs, enabling organisations to comply with the relevant guidelines while ensuring that all staff are working appropriate hours, minimising the risk of any related disputes and claims.
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What kinds of problems can arise in relation to working time regulations?
Where disputes and claims arise, they typically relate to disagreements between staff and employers regarding:
- What constitutes ‘working time’. Staff and employers may disagree over whether certain activities count as chargeable time, i.e. time spent travelling to and from work, or being ‘on call’ but off duty – for example, in professions such as care work which may involve sleeping at the workplace.
- When a connection is drawn between working time and ill health. This is seen particularly in relation to health conditions developed by shift workers.
- Managing disabilities. Where an employee finds that their disability impacts their experience of their working time, this can result in disputes and claims if reasonable adjustments are not made by the employer.
- Holiday Pay. Disputes can arise regarding holiday entitlement and connected to holiday pay. The WTRs entitle staff to a minimum amount of paid holiday per year — 5.6 weeks per year — including all public holidays if the employer wishes.