The European Working Time Directive (EWTD)
What is the 48 Hours Working Time Directive?
It is a European Union initiative to safeguard the amount of hours worked by European Union citizens. The UK adopted the Directive in 1993.
If you opt into the Directive, it protects the following rights:
- It provides you with a maximum working week of 48 hours
- A rest period of 11 consecutive hours a day
- A 20-minute break when the day is longer than six hours
- A minimum of one rest day per week
- The statutory right to four weeks’ holiday
- Night working must not average out at more than eight hours at a stretch
The EWTD is designed to support work-life balance in the UK, by limiting long hours, which can be both stressful and harmful to health. To highlight this, research has shown that driving whilst tired has similar results to driving after drinking alcohol.
However, when the UK adopted the Directive in 1993, we also adopted an opt-out clause and exceptions to the Directive, where you may have to work more than 48 hours a week on average if you work in a job where 24-hour staffing is required, or you work within the emergency services.
Please note, it is your choice on whether or not you choose to opt in or opt out of the 48 Hours Working Time Directive and you should speak to your HR department for further advice.
If you are an international doctor who plans to relocate to the UK and join the NHS, email your CV to [email protected] and we can help you secure an NHS post and provide support through the relocation process.
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Pettinger, T. (2019). Working Time Directive. [online] Econ.economicshelp.org. Available at: https://econ.economicshelp.org/2007/06/working-time-directive.html [Accessed 9 Apr. 2019].
GOV.UK. (2019). Maximum weekly working hours. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/maximum-weekly-working-hours [Accessed 10 Apr. 2019].