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Working Time and Minimum Wage Regulations

The working time and minimum wage regulations apply to nearly all businesses. The working time regulations are normally enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and the Minimum Wage regulations by HMRC and you need to keep records to show compliance with the regulations. There can be severe penalties for breach of the regulations.

The 48 hour working week

The starting point is that workers have a statutory right to a maximum average working week of 48 hours.

Rest breaks and leave

Workers are entitled to...

  1. On every shift over six hours a minimum 20 minute break which in some circumstances can be accumulated but is increased to 30 minutes if under 18 and the period is more than four and a half hours.
  2. 11 hours (12 hours for under 18's) consecutive rest between shifts each day which again can be accumulated in some circumstances.
  3. One day off each week (2 days for under 18's) or two days off every fortnight which again can be accumulated in some circumstances.
  4. From 1 April 2009 5.6 weeks (28 days) paid annual holiday based on the workers average pay which can include bank and public holidays. These amounts accumulate pro-rata from the day they start working and is worked out on a pro-rata basis for part time employees. From 1 April 2009, payment in lieu cannot be provided for anything less than 5.6 weeks. The holiday pay must also be paid when the holiday is taken and not added to say an hourly rate when work is done.
  5. There are special rules for night workers who regularly work at least 3 hours during the night which is a period of at least 7 hours including from midnight to 5am and usually from 11pm to 6am. They should not exceed eight hours in each 24 hour period averaged over 17 weeks although if the work involves special hazards or physical or mental strain this is the case in every 24 hour period.

The national minimum wage

The national minimum wage affects all businesses without exception.

  1. Following the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission, the government will increase the National Living Wage by 4.2% from £7.20 to £7.50 from April 2017. In total, earnings for a full-time worker on the National Minimum Wage will have increased by over £1,400 a year since the introduction of the NLW in April 2016. The government's target is for the NLW to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020 subject to sustained economic growth. The national minimum wage will also increase:
    • for 21 to 24 year olds – from £6.95 per hour to £7.05
    • for 18 to 20 year olds – from £5.55 per hour to £5.60
    • for 16 to 17 year olds – from £4.00 per hour to £4.05
    • for apprentices – from £3.40 per hour to £3.50
  2. An average pay is worked out for each pay reference period which can be up to a maximum of a month but premium payments such as time and a half for overtime cannot be included in the calculation.
  3. The value of most perks cannot be included in the calculation and tips also do not count unless collected by the employers and then paid as part of the normal salary.
  4. It is not possible to opt-out from the national minimum wage.
  5. The national minimum wage does not apply to everyone. Notable exceptions include the self-employed, company directors without written contracts of employment, au pairs working in the family, students on work experience, armed forces and voluntary workers.

How we can help you

If you need any further assistance with the working time regulations and national minimum wage please contact us.