What is the legal number of hours employees can have between shifts?

What is the legal number of hours between shifts?

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The legal number of hours between shifts is determined by the Working Time Regulations 1998.

They state that the minimum rest period in a 24-hour period should not be less than 11 consecutive hours. In general, 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.

Opt Out agreement

An employer cannot insist that a worker works more than 48 hours per week on average. Any more than this are voluntary and subject to an Opt Out agreement.

Note 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.

You can visit the Department for Business Innovation & Skills for more information on the Working Time Regulations and the rules for averaging out the above time limits over a period of time.

Further reading on employment law and advice for employees

Comments (4)


Can i legally ask my employees to work more than 48 hours a week without them signing an opt out clause? And does this count in my companies case whereby they might be asked to do a shift rota which sometimes overlaps into the second week? For example, four 7.5 hour shifts, then straight onto four 9.5 hour night shifts - starting on monday night.


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Hello , general enquiry about working hours, I'm on an afters shift start at 2pm finish at 10pm, iv done a 40 hour shift this week but I'm wondering what's the legal break, rest to have between shifts as iv been told I can come in on the weekend after finishing on the Friday night at 6am to do a 12 hour shift both Saturday and Sunday then return back to work at 6am on the monday, is this OK to do or is it breaking the law, I'd like a reply if possible asap many thanks

Dan Wood

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