3. Opting out of the 48 hour week

You can choose to work more than 48 hours a week on average if you’re over 18. This is called ‘opting out’.

Your employer can ask you to opt out, but you can’t be sacked or treated unfairly for refusing to do so.

You can opt out for a certain period or indefinitely. It must be voluntary and in writing.

Example of opt-out agreement:

I [worker’s name] agree that I may work for more than an average of 48 hours a week. If I change my mind, I will give my employer [amount of time - up to 3 months’] notice in writing to end this agreement. Signed…………………………………… Dated…………………………………….

Workers who can’t opt out

You can’t opt-out of the 48 hour week if you’re:

  • airline staff
  • a worker on ships or boats
  • a worker in the road transport industry, eg delivery drivers (except for drivers of vehicles under 3.5 tonnes using GB Domestic drivers’ hours rules)
  • other staff who travel in and operate vehicles covered by EU rules on drivers’ hours, eg bus conductors
  • a security guard on a vehicle carrying high-value goods

Cancelling an opt-out agreement

You can cancel your opt-out agreement whenever you want - even if it’s part of your employment contract.

You must give your employer at least 7 days’ notice. You may have to give more notice (up to 3 months) if you have a written opt-out agreement.

Your employer can’t force you to cancel your opt-out agreement.