What are legal working hours?
Working time is limited to 48 hours per week. This does not include lunch breaks or time travelling to and from a place of work. An employer cannot insist that a P.A. works more than 48 hours a week but if it is agreed by both the employer and the P.A. in writing and signed by the P.A. then they can work extra hours if they choose. If the P.A. chooses to ‘opt out’, a signed agreement should be kept by the employer.
If a P.A. agrees to working more than 48 hours they must be allowed to cancel the opt-out agreement and ask for their hours to be reduced back to 48 hours at a later date as long as they give one weeks notice of this reduction in writing. It would be preferable to give longer notice to give the employer time to recruit additional P.A.s to ‘fill the gap’.
It is illegal to dismiss a P.A. if they ask for their hours to be reduced to 48 hours. For more information visit the government website
P.A.s have the right to at least 1 day off each week, a rest break of 20 minutes if working more than 6 hours. More information
It is still unclear whether the hours that you sleep in is counted as hours worked unless you are disturbed and actually have to get up to give support. Where a worker is provided with living accommodation or sleeping facilities at or near work and is required to be available all or some time on call or standby, there is a statutory right under the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (NMWR) to be paid at least minimum wage for the hours the person is “awake for the purpose of working”. This has been interpreted as meaning the person is actually working, or is required to be on call or standby and is awake. Minimum wage is not payable when the worker is sleeping.
The current position of the EU Working Time Directive is causing difficulties for many people because interpretation of what is classed as working time is unclear and largely ignored.