Working Time Regulations 1998

The working time regulations 69 (SI 1998/1833) is a statutory instrument in UK labour law which implements the EU Working Time Directive 2003.[1] It does not extend to Northern Ireland.

Working Time Regulations 1998
Long title...
CitationSI 1998/1833
Territorial extentEngland and Wales; Scotland
Royal assent1998
Status: Current legislation
Text of statute as originally enacted


The Working Time Regulations create a basic set of rights for the time people work, particularly 28 days paid holidays, a right to 20 minute paid breaks for each 6 hours worked, a right to weekly rest of at least one full 24 hour period, and the right to limit the working week to 48 hours. These are designed to be minimum standards, which anybody's individual contract or collective agreement through a trade union may improve upon. The Regulations apply to all workers (not just employees) and stipulate minimum rest breaks, daily rest, weekly rest and the maximum average working week.


Regulations 13 and 13A create a right to paid annual leave of 28 days, expressed as "four weeks" and an additional "1.6 weeks" (including bank holidays and public holidays).[2][3] In the Working Time Directive article 7 refers to paid annual leave of "at least four weeks", but does not directly define a "week", and nor do the regulations. Article 5 states that the "weekly rest period" means a "seven-day period". When the Directive was implemented in the UK, regulation 13 originally stated "four weeks" but many employers only gave their workers four five-day periods of leave (i.e. 20 days). In response the UK government amended the regulations in 2007 to add the further 1.6 week period,[4] bringing the minimum in line with the European Union requirement for four full weeks (i.e. 28 days).[5] However, this confusion led to the argument that the UK had gone beyond the minimum standards required by the Working Time Directive 2003, even though no country in the EU has a right to fewer holidays than 28 days.

Rest periodsEdit

Regulation 10 creates the right to a minimum period of rest of 20 minutes in any shift lasting over 6 hours. Under 18's are entitled to a 30 minute break for every 4.5 hours worked.

Weekly working timeEdit

Regulations 4-5 set a default rule that workers may work no more than 48 hours per week (although one may opt out of it).

ECJ case law has confirmed that statutory holiday will continue to accrue during career breaks or sabbaticals.[6]

Case lawEdit

"It is impossible to establish universal uniformity of hours without inflicting very serious injury to workers."

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Working Time Regulations 1998: Guidance on the legislation". Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  2. ^ "The Working Time Regulations 1998 - Entitlement to annual leave". UK Government. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Statutory holiday entitlement". Personnel Today. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  4. ^ Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007/2079 reg.2(2)
  5. ^ E McGaughey, A Casebook on Labour Law (Hart 2019) ch 7(1)(a)
  6. ^[bare URL]
  7. ^ Judgment of the Court of 12 November 1996. - United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland v Council of the European Union. - Council Directive 93/104/EC concerning certain aspects of the organization of working time - Action for annulment. - Case C-84/94.
  8. ^ Judgment of the Court of 3 October 2000. - Sindicato de Médicos de Asistencia Pública (Simap) v Conselleria de Sanidad y Consumo de la Generalidad Valenciana. - Reference for a preliminary ruling: Tribunal Superior de Justicia de la Comunidad Valenciana - Spain. - Social policy - Protection of the safety and health of workers - Directives 89/391/EEC and 93/104/EC - Scope - Doctors in primary health care teams - Average period of work - Inclusion of time on call - Night workers and shift workers. - Case C-303/98.
  9. ^ Judgment of the Court (Sixth Chamber) of 26 June 2001. - The Queen v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, ex parte Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematographic and Theatre Union (BECTU). - Reference for a preliminary ruling: High Court of Justice (England & Wales), Queen's Bench Division (Crown Office) - United Kingdom. - Social policy - Protection of the health and safety of workers - Directive 93/104/EC - Entitlement to paid annual leave - Condition imposed by national legislation - Completion of a qualifying period of employment with the same employer. - Case C-173/99.
  10. ^ Judgment of the Court of 9 September 2003. - Landeshauptstadt Kiel v Norbert Jaeger. - Reference for a preliminary ruling: Landesarbeitsgericht Schleswig-Holstein - Germany. - Social policy - Protection of the safety and health of workers - Directive 93/104/EC - Concepts of working time and rest period - On-call service (Bereitschaftsdienst) provided by doctors in hospitals. - Case C-151/02.


  • E McGaughey, A Casebook on Labour Law (Hart 2019) ch 7(1)(a)

External linksEdit