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Can you opt out of the Working Time Regulations?

Published on 21 October 2017 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett
working time regulations

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (“the Regulations”) set out:

  • the average maximum time that workers should work each week;
  • the rules for working at night; and
  • the rules for rest periods/breaks.

The phrase “working time” means any period where the workers are working i.e. carrying out duties and at the disposal of the employer. This also includes any period of “relevant training” and any additional period which is agreed in a relevant agreement to be working time.

Is there anything else that can be included in “working time”?

Yes, the following examples may form part of “working time” under the Regulations:

  • Overtime – paid or unpaid unless on a purely voluntary basis;
  • Time spent on call;
  • Responding to telephone calls whilst on call;
  • Travelling to incidents whilst on call;
  • Travelling to meetings as part of the employment;
  • Working lunches;
  • Work taken home at the request of the employer.

Can you “opt out” of the Working Time Regulations?

The Working Time Regulations allow for employers to modify or exclude some of the provisions.  This can be achieved by using one of the following agreements:

  • Collective agreements
  • Workforce agreements
  • Individual agreements

For further information on the Regulations please visit or contact one of the Employment Solicitors at Poole Alcock Solicitors on 01270 625478. Alternatively you can visit our litigation services page here or complete the form linked here and we will call you back.

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