These regulations apply to almost all employed workers over the minimum school leaving age (full and part time, temporary and permanent), with a few exceptions such as domestic servants in private houses or jobs where 24-hour staffing is needed. They do not apply to people who are genuinely self-employed.
The regulations set limits on working time and also provide rights to minimum rest periods and the amount of paid annual leave workers must be given.
Workers aged over 18 can choose to opt out of the maximum weekly number of working hours (48 hours averaged over a 17 week period), but this has to be their own decision. They can opt back in whenever they want to by giving at least seven days notice.
Workers aged 16 and 17 are usually not allowed to work for more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week and they are not allowed to opt out of the maximum working hours limits.
Employers must keep records to show that the weekly working time limits have been complied with. Existing records, such as payroll records, may be sufficient for this purpose. In most cases employers don't need to keep a running total of the number of hours worked each week, although the hours of workers who haven't opted out and are close to the weekly maximum should be monitored to ensure they don't work too many hours.
You can find out more details about the Working Time Regulations in the UK from the following sources:
- the Gov.uk website, which includes detailed information for employers on maximum working hours
- NI Businessinfo