Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)

It started with a question – What are the basic work rota laws in the UK that a small & medium-sized business owner should know of? We’ll try to answer it in this article.

Setting up a rota that works for a business can be tricky. Ensuring that you meet the needs of your employees, business, as well as customer is never a simple task.

On top of this, there are many rules and regulations that you must follow to ensure your business isn’t breaking the law. Understanding the many work rota laws in the UK can be confusing. And even if you are rule savvy, ensuring you are always compliant can be a mammoth task.

But never fear because we are here to help. In this article, we will discuss the many rules and regulations pertaining to work-based rotas in the UK. We will also look at how disputes over rotas can be managed and what employees’ rights are. Let’s get started.

What are the basic laws pertaining to work rota one should be aware of?

There are many rules, laws, and regulations pertaining to the workplace. And while many of them do not specifically refer to rotas, their reach can affect them.

First, if a workplace requires a rota, it is contractually obliged to provide one in good time. The law does not specify how long this time is other than to say it must be reasonable.

Second, under the Working Time Regulations, employees have the right to a rest period of 11 uninterrupted hours each day. On top of this, they must have 24 uninterrupted hours’ rest and cannot work over 48 hours in a week. All businesses must factor these regulations into any rota.

Third, workers are entitled to an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes when they work over six hours. Many businesses will increase this to either half an hour or a full hour. There may also be other breaks at the employer’s discretion. These will need to be factored into any rota created.

What are good resources to read about work rota laws in the UK?

There are many resources available to read regarding employment law in the UK. Your local book shop will stock dozens of titles regarding the subject.

If you want free advice, the Internet is chock full of advice. Here are a few sites to check out:

  • The Citizens Advice Bureau – The Citizens Advice Bureau has long been a fount of knowledge for employment law. Their website contains many useful bits of information regarding employment law that may affect rota creation.
  • The Law Society – The law society is another helpful resource for understanding employment law. Again, their website includes many helpful guides. They can also point you toward a solicitor if required.
  • The Government website – These days the government publishes their own .gov.uk websites. These often contain useful information with many focusing on employment law.
  • Solicitors’ websites – While solicitors’ websites are often hit and miss (they are trying to sell their services after all), some can provide useful information. Many publish employment law guides on their web pages. A quick search on Google can provide a wealth of information.

What is the law for changing a shift from day to night or from night to day?

Changing to and from night shifts is a tricky thing for a business. You may need employees to work in the evening because of demand in your industry. Alternatively, you may need to bring night shift staff in during the day. But just switching an employee’s shift isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. If an employee’s contract doesn’t state they have to do night work or day shifts, you can’t just change their shifts. Normally they would need to agree to change their hours beforehand.

How much notice should I provide employees for their rota?

As mentioned previously, there is no required timeframe for issuing a rota to staff. The law simply states that if a business needs a rota, they should issue it within good time. What good time means is open to interpretation. Usually, it depends on the size and type of business you run. For example, a small concern may get away with publishing a rota a few days before it comes into force. A larger business with many employees may need to give more notice. This will allow changes to be made if necessary.

How are rota disputes managed and by whom?

Rota disputes are common in any business and often dealt with in-house. With little legal framework, it is important for businesses to have clearly defined ways of resolving issues.

If a dispute arises regarding a rota, the first port of call should be with the person who drew it up. They are often the person with the most knowledge and ability to make changes. If this brings no joy, a way of raising the issue with a member of management needs to be in place. They can look into the issue and provide a fair resolution.

If the rota issue breaches the employee’s rights, then they could seek legal advice. This is most common when there is a breach of the Work Time Directive. For example, not giving the required 11 hours between shifts.

We have compiled the most common shift mistakes and suggestions to avoid them in our blog.

What are the rights of an employee who works on a rota?

As mentioned previously, if an employee works shifts, they have a right to be told what their shift pattern is in good time. The shift pattern must adhere to the Work Time Directive. This means they must have:

  • A gap of 11 hours between shifts.
  • A 24 hour break each week.
  • Only work 48 hours each week.

What are the rights of an employer who uses rota work?

The rights of an employer where rotas are concerned are often set out in the employee’s contract.

If an employer specifies that employees are shift workers in their contracts, then they are allowed to vary shifts as necessary. The contract will specify how many hours the employee can work, and the employer will adhere to this. If the contract states that shifts can occur at various times of the day (night for example), they can rota these periods in too.

Of course, the rules set in a contract must not breach the employees’ statutory rights.

Check out Papershift’s work schedule or rota planning software to make this process simple and fun.

Illustration by Виолетта Барсук from Ouch!