Maximum weekly working hours
2. Calculating your working hours
Average working hours are calculated over a ‘reference’ period, normally 17 weeks.
This means you can work more than 48 hours one week, as long as the average over 17 weeks is less than 48 hours a week.
Your working hours can’t be averaged out if you’re under 18. You can’t work more than 40 hours in any one week.
Some jobs have different reference periods, eg:
- trainee doctors have a 26-week reference period
- the offshore oil and gas sector has a 52-week reference period
What counts as work
A working week includes:
- job-related training
- time spent travelling if you travel as part of your job, eg sales rep
- working lunches, eg business lunches
- time spent working abroad
- paid overtime
- unpaid overtime you’re asked to do
- time spent on call at the workplace
- any time that is treated as ‘working time’ under a contract
- travel between home and work at the start and end of the working day (if you don’t have a fixed place of work)
What doesn’t count as work
A working week doesn’t include:
- time you spend on call away from the workplace
- breaks when no work is done, eg lunch breaks
- travelling outside of normal working hours
- unpaid overtime you’ve volunteered for, eg staying late to finish something off
- paid or unpaid holiday
- travel to and from work (if you have a fixed place of work)
You have more than one job
Your combined working hours shouldn’t be more than 48 hours a week on average.
If you work more than 48 hours on average, you can either:
- sign an opt-out agreement
- reduce your hours to meet the 48-hour limit