Employees need time off from time to time. Sometimes the days off may be mandated by law or given to the employees by their bosses as a reward or benefit.
But what exactly are days off and what does the law say about them?
Read on to find out more.
What is a day off from work?
A day off from work is exactly what it says, time away from work. Nearly all workers will have at least one or two days off from work in a working week as part of their working schedule.
Extra days off can be taken in certain situations. These can be for things like annual leave, sick days, maternity leave, etc.
What does the law say about days off from work?
The law gives you the right to take time off work in certain circumstances, but you might not be paid for this time off. Your rights depend on your employment status and the reason for the day off.
Standard days off as part of a shift rotation will not impact on the number of hours an employee works so will have no impact on wages or pay.
Your contract of employment might give you additional rights to time off, like holiday days, etc. For full details check out your contract.
If you don’t have a written contract of employment, you might still have extra rights. This might have been verbally agreed with your employer or come about because of the way things are done in your workplace.
All adult workers are entitled by law to at least one day off a week. Days off can be averaged over a two-week period, meaning you are entitled to two days off a fortnight.
Is the law different for young workers?
If you are under 18 and over school leaving age you are classed as a young worker. Young workers cannot usually be made to work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. These hours can’t be averaged over a longer period.
On top of this, young workers must have a minimum of 2 days off a week.
But what exactly counts as work?
These days, many staff members work from home or take their work home with them. But how do you know if these count as work?
Let us explain – as well as carrying out your normal duties, your working week will also include:
- Job-related training
- Job-related travelling time (for example, if you’re a travelling salesman)
- Working lunches
- Time spent working abroad
- Paid and some unpaid overtime
- Time spent ‘on-call’ at the workplace
- Any time that is treated as ‘working time’ under a contract
To meet the statutory requirement for days off, your employer cannot consider any time you complete on any of these tasks as time off.
What doesn’t count as work?
To fully understand how many days off you are allowed, you also need to understand what doesn’t count as work too. Your working week does not include:
- Breaks when no work is done, such as lunch breaks.
- Normal travel to and from work.
- Time when you’re ‘on call’ away from the workplace.
- Travelling outside of normal working hours.
- Unpaid overtime where you volunteer to do so, for example, staying late to finish something.
- Paid or unpaid holiday.
- Sick leave.
- Maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
- Paid overtime you have opted to do.
- Rest breaks.
What if I work night shifts?
You are a night worker if you work at least three hours during night-time on a regular basis. Night-time for work purposes is between 11.00 pm and 6.00 am, unless you and your employer have agreed on a different definition. If you occasionally work at night, this will not count as a night worker.
As a night worker, you should not work more than an average of eight hours in each 24-hour period – excluding overtime. You cannot opt out of this night working limit.
What if I work two different jobs?
If you work for more than one employer, the total amount of hours you work shouldn’t exceed the 48-hour average limit (unless you have opted out of the regulations).
If you work two jobs, you could either:
- Consider signing an opt-out agreement with your employers if your total time worked is over 48 hours.
- Reduce your hours to meet the 48-hour limit.
Who’s not covered by the days off regulations?
Your working week is not covered by the Working Time Regulations if you work in the following areas:
- Jobs where you can choose freely how long you will work – for example, a managing executive or somebody who is self-employed.
- The armed forces, emergency services and police are excluded in some circumstances.
- Domestic servants in private houses.
There are also special rules for mobile workers in the transport industry (whether this is road, rail, or sea).
What are the pros of giving staff days off from work?
There are many benefits to giving staff days away from work, with many becoming clearer the more time off they are given. Here are a few to think about:
- Employees feel valued when they are allowed time off which can contribute to employee engagement and retention.
- Employees who have days off benefit from feeling refreshed when they get away from the work environment.
- When employees have access to days off, they are less likely to call in unexpectedly with sickness or other issues, allowing for more consistent coverage of responsibilities.
- Paid time off make employees feel empowered to make decisions about their personal needs.
Days off from work are vital for employees to allow them to rest up and refresh. Without them they may experience burnout or even become dissatisfied with their job.
For employers, the benefits of having a refreshed, alert, and on the ball workforce are obvious.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide. For more workplace information, check out the rest of our website.
- Clock in and out from browser
- Time tracking via Phone & Tablet app
- View & approve time records online
- Export timesheets to payroll
- View & approve staff vacation requests
- Overview of employee availability & absences