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What is the legal number of hours employees can have between shifts?
Know the legalities of employee working hours

What is the legal number of hours between shifts?

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 eleven consecutive hours. In brief, 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. An employer cannot insist that a worker works more than 48 hours per week. Any more than 48 hours 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 that came into force last year.

You can visit http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/work_time_regs/wtr0.htm for more information on the Working Time Regulations and the rules for averaging out the above time limits over a period of time.

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12 comments

Tiff Your Momma

My manager scheduled me to work 2pm till 10pm pn sinday night and has me coming back 4am to 12pm on monday is that legal

Ian Gibson

Hello, advice please. After many years of my engineering maintenance team taking approx 8 hours rest following any out of hours call out (ooo = 7pm - 7am), they have collectively taken the decision to start taking 11 hours rest. I appreciate that some individuals live further away but I have always been flexible here. I feel extremely angry that they have decided to take more rest time based on one of the team's 'research' via the internet and that they have not had the courtesy to talk to me, their manager, about it. I have set up a meeting later this week so would like to go forearmed even if I need to accept that their research proves to be correct. We have always run our call out system with the 8 hours rest period (excluding travel home from call out and travel back to work) with no issues until now. We have already seen how the 11 hour rest period makes little sense when an engineer was called out ooo, returned home and ended up returning to work the next day for 55 minutes before end of shift. Am I legally obliged to authorise the 11 hour minimum rest period or can I, as the site manager, dictate we stick to the original 8 hour set-up? Many thanks Ian

Johnny Mcsorley

Hello im looking for advice on the water industry. I work from 8am till 430pm then travel back home and out again that night from 11pm till 7am. Am entitled to more rest/concession rate? When i ask my employer this he tells me that sure u get the next day off to which i reply sure ive already work a day shift 8-430 then a night shiftv11-7 then back in the following day 8-430 again. Any info would be vey much appreciated.

Michael Todd

hi any advise pls.I work 8.5 hrs a day doing property maintenance 8-5. once a month I'm on call. when my day finishes at 5pm I'm on call until 8am the nxt day then my normal working day starts at 8am again I do this all week and I'm then on call all weekend non stop if I get called out during the night, say between 01:00am - 04:00am should I be made to start at 08:00am and have to do another 8hrs, and again be on call at 5pm. how much sleep am I legally ment to have before starting work at 8am. I'm a carpenter/ plumber and do a lot of driving about town, London.

Katie Greene

At work our opening hours are 5.30am - 11pm, and sometimes I am required to work 2.30pm - 11pm, and be back in for opening at 5.15am the next morning (working until either 2 or 2.30pm, with flat rate standard pay Shouldn't we at least be paid for unsociable hours?

Erzsebet Vargane Kicsi

When I finish at 11 pm can my employer ask me to start 8 am shift next day? My shift 8 hours long.

Jackie Leach

is it right to be asked to work 6.00am till 9.30am then go back 2.30.till 4.430 then go back 7.30 till 9/10 pm all in 0ne day for weeks at a time

Cheryl Earles

Wondering if it is okay for my employer have me work 8 hours one day which I am done at 8:00pm and then go back to work at 7:30 am the next morning.

Shelby Lloyd

I am in a difficult situation as I am a support worker which means I sleep at work twice a week. I start at 9.30am Monday, finish at midnight for my sleep (14.5hrs) I then have to be up at 8am and don't leave work until 7pm Tuesday (11 hrs) the only 'break' I have is at midnight when I go to sleep for which I get £25 - no overtime pay. Are these hours legal!?

Peter Baxter

Every weekend I do some horrible horrible shifts. For instance, today Friday I've got a 5:30pm till 4:30am, and then the following day I am due back in at 2pm. I wont get to home and to bed on Friday till around 6am, meaning I'll get 4-6 hours sleep if im lucky. Is this legal? (I think i may be on a zero hour contract if that makes any difference?)

Dave Barker

working as a employed taxi driver working an 8 hr shift starting at 6pm till2 am then asked to start at 7.30am the same day was that legal

Mark Cunningham

Peter, Is there any rules on the length of shift that can be worked? We used to work 7.30am till 9.30pm with a 45 minute break, this was voluntary and we basically got an extra day off for it. Our work now have stopped this, we have asked to opt-out of the WTD, but they have refused us this option. But they allow our nightshift workers to opt out as they do around 72 hours a week. Can you advise please?

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