Overtime, opting out and compensatory rest


Overtime is normally hours that are worked over the normal full time hours; it can be compulsory or voluntary. Compulsory overtime would form part of the terms and conditions of employment, but workers can still not be made to work over 48 hours on average per week if they do not agree to. There is no legal right to be paid extra for any overtime worked, but this may be detailed in the terms of employment.

Opting out of the 48 hour working week

Normally most workers do not have to work on average more than 48 hours per week unless they agree to. Even if they do agree they have the right to opt out at any time by giving notice. The average working week is calculated by taking the average over a 17 week reference period. Workers who wish to opt out must give notice in writing of at least 7 days a longer period of notice may be agreed by the employer, but it can be no longer than 3 months.

Young people (16 and 17 year olds) can not normally work more than 40 hours per week and they can not opt out.

Compensatory rest

In some circumstances a worker may be required to work during a rest period and may have to take rest later this is known as compensatory rest. Compensatory rest is normally a period of rest the same length as the period of rest that a worker has missed. In principle workers are entitled to 90 hours of rest a week.

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