Limits to work hours

The working time regulations, which came into force on October 1 set a limit on the working week of an average of 48 hours - unless individuals agree to longer. The average period to calculate this is 17 weeks but can by extended by agreement.

As professionals who decide when they do their marking, lesson preparation and other tasks related to their jobs, teachers are probably not affected by this limit. In any case, while teachers often work long hours, their average weekly working hours over a 17-week period usually is less than 48 because of school holidays.

Residential caretakers and other school support staff will be more closely affected by the regulations, which also give workers the right to a minimum 20-minute rest break if their working day is longer than six hours and to three weeks' paid annual leave.

But Liz Snape, policy and research officer for Unison, which represents many caretakers, cleaners and cooks, does not expect the regulations to make very much difference to schools.

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