Hours, leave and flexible working

As an employer, you are a legally obliged to comply with legal restrictions on working hours and time off. Failure to do so could lead to claims being made against you in an employment tribunal, enforcement action and even prosecution. Giving employees fair holidays, work breaks and flexible hours (where appropriate) can go a long way to increasing general productivity and reduce accidents and unauthorised absence. Legally, all requests for flexible working must be considered by employers.


Holidays, working hours, and rest break requirements are set under The Working Time Regulations to comply with The EU Working Time directive. Both are in place to safe guard the health, safety and welfare of employees in the work place.

Employees are limited to working a maximum of 48 hours per week unless they strictly opt out.  Employees have a minimum statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks paid leave a year. This applies pro rota to part time workers. Special rules apply to young workers, Sunday workers and night workers.


Employees are entitles to additional paid time of for the following reasons; maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave. Parents and careers are entitled to take unpaid parental leave and care leave. This unpaid leave can be taken to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

Flexible working

Employees who are parents, children under the age of 17 or disabled children under the age of 18 are legally required to have their application for flexible working seriously considered by their employers. Flexible working can include arrangements such as flexi-work, part time work or work from home. Usually, an agreements for flexible working becomes part of the employment contract unless it is specifically disclosed that the arrangement is temporary or on a trial period.  Refusal of flexible working must be accompanied with a valid reason. For example, and employee may refuse to give an employee flexible work if it will cause harm to the business performance or is too expensive.