This page was last updated on: 2021-09-18

Overtime Compensation

The daily working hours are not clearly defined in legislation however, the maximum weekly working hours (including overtime) are 48 hours averaged over a reference period of 17 weeks. There are some special exemptions allowing a 26-week reference period and the possibility of its extension to even one year where a collective or workforce agreement or an agreement between the worker and employer provides for this. Workers can also opt out of the maximum weekly hour limit of 48 hours. For employees that have normal working hours, overtime usually means any time worked beyond these hours. Employers do not have to pay workers a premium rate for overtime. However, employees’ average pay for the total hours worked must not fall below the National Minimum Wage. An employee’s employment contract will usually include details of any overtime pay rates and how they are worked out. Employees only have to work overtime if their contract says so. Even if it does, by law, they cannot usually be forced to work more than an average of 48 hours per week. An employee can agree to work longer - but this agreement must be in writing and signed by them. Since the overtime rate has not been defined in the legislation, an employment contract must have information whether overtime is compulsory or voluntary, rates of overtime pay, when overtime is payable, etc. Overtimes rates are agreed on an industry wide basis or between worker and employer. There is no minimum statutory level and overtime pay rates vary from business to business.

Source: §234 of Employment Rights Act (ERA), 1996; Regulation 4 of the Working Time Regulations 1998;

Night Work Compensation

Night is defined as the period, which is not less than 07 hours and includes the period between midnight and 05:00 in the morning. The precise night period can be determined in a collective or individual agreement. However, in the absence of such an agreement, this period will be from 11:00 p.m. to 06:00 a.m. A worker is considered a night worker if he/she works at least 3 hours of his/her daily working time during the night or some others hours, as determined under a collective agreement, if he/she works these hours on majority of days on which he/she works. Employers must make sure that workers do not work more than an average of 8 hours in a 24-hour period. Workers cannot opt out of this working limit. Employers must keep records of night workers’ working hours to prove they are not exceeding night working limits. Employers must keep the records for at least 2 years. Before someone starts working at night, they must be offered a free health assessment. There are no premium rates found in UK legislature for night work.

Source: §

Compensatory Holidays / Rest Days

When a worker is required to work during a period, which would otherwise be a rest period, or rest break, the worker is entitled wherever possible to take an equivalent period of compensatory rest. In exceptional circumstances when this is not possible, the worker is afforded such protection as appropriate in order to safeguard the worker’s health and safety. Compensatory rest breaks are of the same length as the break (or part of it) that the workers have missed.

A worker is entitled to compensatory rest if he/she is involved in following occupations/activities:

-        shift workers who cannot take daily or weekly rest breaks

-        workplace based in a far-off place (e.g. an oil rig)

-        working in two different workplace with considerable distance between them

-        involved in security and surveillance-based work

-        involved in seasonal industries – like agriculture, retail, postal services or tourism

-        workers forced to work due to an exceptional event, force majeure, or accident happened or about to happen

-        Medical staff where round-the-clock staffing is required

-        workers in rail industry

-        workers who working day is split up (a cleaner who works for part of the morning and the evening)

-        there is an agreement between management, trade unions or the workforce (a ‘collective’ or ‘workforce’ agreement) that has changed or removed rights to these rest breaks for a group of workers

The total rest entitlement for a week is 90 hours a week on average (11 hours daily rest breaks + 24 hours weekly rest period) - this does not include breaks at work, which are additional. (

Weekend / Public Holiday Work Compensation

There is no provision in the legislation, which requires the employer to pay a higher rate to the workers employed on weekly rest days and public/bank holidays.  Employers only have to pay staff a higher rate for working on Sundays if the contract says so. (

Regulations on Compensation

  • Employment Rights Act (ERA), 1996 last amended in 2012
  • Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended by 2007 Amendment Regulations)
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