Working time and time off

Employers should be aware of the various protections available to employees in respect of working time and time off.

Employers should be aware of the various protections available to employees in respect of working time and time off.

Working Time Regulations

These regulations set down conditions in relation to working time, rest breaks and holidays.


In the UK, workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave per year and pro-rata for a part-time worker.  There are specific rules on the carry forward of holiday. Claims can be brought if workers are not given this leave.

There are specific rules on calculating holiday pay which we can advise you on further.

Rest breaks

Workers have minimum periods of interrupted rest that they are entitled to on a daily and weekly basis if their working day exceeds a certain number of hours.

Sick leave, medical appointments and medical suspension

Employees may have the contractual entitlement to take time off if sick.  If an employee is absent due to a disability, the employer should avoid discrimination and may need to consider reasonable adjustments.  Employees may qualify for SSP or company sick pay.

The contract of employment may also contain rights around attending medical appointments. Pregnant employees are allowed paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. In addition, if the employee is disabled they may be entitled to reasonable adjustments so that they can attend the appointment.

An employee may be suspended from work on medical grounds relating to certain hazardous substances.

Time off for training

Employees working for employers with 250 or more employees are entitled to request time off work to undertake study or training.

Young employees have a duty to participate in education or training if they are under 18 and do not have a Level 3 qualification (broadly two A-levels or equivalent).  However, young employees no longer have the right to paid time off for training.

Time off in a redundancy situation

Employees under notice of dismissal because of redundancy are entitled to take reasonable time off to look for another job.

Family leave

Details about family-related time off can be found on our dedicated page: Families and Pregnancy – Maternity, paternity and adoption rights.

Workplace and trade union representatives

Workers and employees have the right to be accompanied by a fellow employee or trade union representative to disciplinary and grievance hearings.  The companion is entitled to time off to do this.

Where an employer is proposing collective redundancies or there is a TUPE transfer proposed and there is no trade union, the employer is required to inform and consult either a standing body or employees or arrange for the election of employee representatives.  These employee reps are entitled to reasonable time off to perform their functions and undergo training. Likewise, trade union reps have a statutory right to reasonable time off to carry out their duties etc.

Other duties

An employee is entitled to time off from work to carry out certain public duties. Employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment or dismissed as a result of performing jury service. When an employee joins the Reserve Forces, they have certain protections.

Contact our HR Consultants today

We recognise that every business is unique and so are its workforce and operational requirements.

At Ashtons HR Consulting, we offer the following services concerning flexible working:

  • preparation of relevant HR policies
  • advice on handling the above requests
  • provision of template letters
  • advice on any queries that arise throughout the process.

Please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team by filling out our online enquiry form or by calling 0333 222 0989.


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