Legal Article - Employment Law

Working at Night

A night worker, is an employee who works at least 3hours between 11pm and 6am on a regular basis. These employees must be offered a free health assessment as frequently as possible. Employers are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the ‘normal’ hours of their night workers do not exceed an average of eight hours for each 24 hours over a 17 week period. There is no equivalent individual opt-out as for the 48-hour week.

Also, a “forward” calculation to take account of normal hours is required, whereas it is retrospective in the case of calculating the 48-hour average. Workers on unmeasured working time and certain other workers in special circumstances are exempted from this limit and collective and workforce agreements can modify or exclude the limit.

The latter could agree a longer reference period. Where special circumstances or agreements apply compensatory rest or other appropriate protection must be provided.

Night time

This is a period of at least seven hours, which includes the period from 11pm to 6am. The actual hours can be varied by the employer.

Who is a Night Worker?

Any worker whose daily working time includes at least three hours of night time:
• on the majority of the days they work;

• on such a proportion of the days they work as is agreed between employer and workers in a collective or workforce agreement; or

• Sufficiently often that they may be said to work such hours as a normal course i.e. they do so on a regular basis. For example, on a rotating shift pattern that results in them working regularly during night time, as opposed to on an infrequent or ad hoc basis.

Reference period

This is determined in the same way as for the 48-hour week.

Special hazards

Where a night worker’s work involves special hazards or heavy physical or mental strain, there is a limit of eight hours on the worker’s actual daily working time. The limit must be observed in any period of 24 hours during which the night worker performs such work. The work to which this limit applies is identified:

• by agreement between employer and workers in a collective or workforce agreement; or
• As posing significant risk by risk assessments an employer has conducted under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992.

Working Time Records: Night Shift Workers
This is the same as for the 48-hour week.

Working Time Regulations Enforcement: Night Workers

The same as under the 48-hour section above.

Published: 03 Jun 2011


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