Your normal working hours should be set out in your contract of employment. Your employer can't require you to work more than 48 hours a week on average. You can opt out of this protection and some sectors have their own rules regarding working time which differ from the general position.
Your terms of employment should say what hours and working patterns are involved in your job. You might not have a written contract, but employees must be given written particulars of their main terms and conditions - including the working hours - within two months of starting.
Most workers should not have to work more than an average of 48 hours each week, according to the Working Time Regulations. The Regulations also give you rights to paid holiday, rest breaks and limits on night work.
Your average working hours are calculated over a 17-week period. You can work more than 48 hours in one week as long as the average is less than 48.
There are special rules for some workers, such as young workers, trainee doctors and mobile workers in the transport industry.
If you are under 18 and over the school leaving age, you are classed as a young worker.
In England you are under school leaving age until the end of the summer term of the school year in which you turn 16.
In Scotland, you are under school leaving age until the last date in May or the first day of the Christmas holidays / 21st December depending on when your 16th birthday is.
In Northern Ireland you can leave school on the 30th June if you are 16 on or before 1st July in that year.
Young workers cannot usually be made to work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. These hours can't be averaged over a longer period. There are some exceptions to these rules.
As well as carrying out your normal duties, your working week includes:
Your working week does not include:
If you are 18 or over and wish to work more than 48 hours a week, you can choose to opt out of the 48-hour limit. This must be voluntary and in writing. It can't be an agreement with the whole workforce and you shouldn't be sacked or subjected to a detriment (for example, refused promotion or overtime) for refusing to sign an opt-out. Note that dismissal for refusing to sign an opt out agreement is automatically unfair.
If you sign an opt-out, you have the right to cancel this agreement at any time by giving between one week and three months' notice. You can agree this notice period with your employer when you sign the opt-out. You can cancel an opt-out even if it's part of a contract you've signed.
If you work in certain sectors, you can't opt out of the 48-hour limit to your working week.
Your working week is not covered by the Working Time Regulations if you work in the following areas:
There are also special rules for doctors in training and mobile workers in the transport industry (whether road, rail, air or sea).