1. Overview

You can’t work more than 48 hours a week on average - normally averaged over 17 weeks. This law is sometimes called the ‘working time directive’ or ‘working time regulations’.

You can choose to work more by opting out of the 48-hour week.

If you’re under 18, you can’t work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.


You may have to work more than 48 hours a week on average if you work in a job:

  • where 24-hour staffing is required
  • in the armed forces, emergency services or police
  • in security and surveillance
  • as a domestic servant in a private household
  • as a seafarer, sea-fisherman or worker on vessels on inland waterways
  • where working time is not measured and you’re in control, eg you’re a managing executive with control over your decisions

Contact the Acas helpline or use the Acas Helpline Online to get further advice on working hours.