Proposed extension of Working Time Regulations

United Kingdom
In a consultation paper dated 31 October 2002, the Government is proposing to amend the current Working Time Regulations to cover those sectors of the workforce currently excluded, namely road, rail, air, sea and inland waterways transport, sea fishing, offshore work and the activities of junior doctors. It is proposed that the new regulations will come into force on 1 August 2003

The existing working time protections were introduced by the European Working Time Directive (93/104/EC), which was adopted on 23 November 1993. The directive was implemented by the Working Time Regulations 1998.

The Regulations provide for:

  • An average 48-hour working week;
  • 4 weeks' paid annual holiday;
  • 1 day's rest in 7 (or 2 in a fortnight)
  • 11 hours' rest between working days;
  • a 20-minute rest break if the working day exceeds 6 hours;
  • health assessments for night workers; and
  • an 8-hour limit on night working.

These provisions do not, however, apply to the sectors referred to above. It was felt that these areas required specific legislation to accommodate working time measures.

A new working time directive, known as the Horizontal Amending Directive (HAD) (2000/34/EC), was adopted on 1 August 2000 which, together with three further sector specific directives (the Road Transportation Directive, the Aviation Directive and the Seafarers Directive), now extends working time protections to the previously excluded sectors.

The Government has issued draft regulations to implement the provisions of the HAD as follows:

  • The full benefit of the regulations will be given from 1 August 2003 to non-mobile workers in the road, sea and sea fishing sectors, all workers in the rail and offshore sectors and to all workers in aviation not covered by the Aviation Directive (which has its own working time protections). Mobile workers in the sea transport sector will be covered by the Seafarer's Directive which has been implemented through the Merchant Shipping (Hours of Work) Regulations 2002 which came into effect on 7 September 2002.

  • The regulations will extend to doctors in training from 1 August 2004 with the exception of the weekly working time limits. These will be phased in over a further transitional period.

  • In road transport, mobile workers (who will be covered by the recently adopted Road Transport Directive), will be entitled to 4 weeks' paid annual leave, and health assessment if a night worker (as neither of these working time provisions forms part of that Directive). Mobile workers not covered by the Road Transport Directive will be entitled to an average 48-hour working week, 4 weeks' paid annual leave, health assessments if a night worker and provision for adequate rest.

The full consultation paper can be viewed at:

The closing date for comments is 31 January 2003.

For further information, please contact Alex Green at or on +44 (0)1224 622002.