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Rules governing working time have been subject to recent change in the UK.

The main regulations governing working time in Great Britain are the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) which implement the provisions of the Working Time Directive (93/104/EC). They lay down minimum conditions relating to weekly working time, rest entitlements and annual leave.

The rules governing working time have been subject to recent changes for example in connection with travelling time (for workers who need to travel as part of their job) and holiday pay especially where the worker has a commission or overtime element to their regular pay.

There are some cases where Workers may be classed as being exempt from the Working Time Regulations 1998, for instance managing executives or other persons with autonomous decision-taking powers who have working time which is difficult to measure or predetermine. In those instances, a clause may be inserted into the contract of employment to stipulate that this is the case.

For other Employees it is advisable to produce an Opt Out Agreement for the Working Time Regulations 1998 for Employees to sign. This Agreement would include an opt-out clause to the 48-hour limit which allows employers to ask their staff to agree to work more than 48 hours a week in a 4-month period. Employers cannot force employees to sign an opt-out: it must be agreed to and employees must not be dismissed for refusing to sign one – therefore it is advisable to provide Employees with a separate Opt Out Agreement to sign rather than adding a clause within the Workers contract.