Introduction to this document

Opt-out agreement

An opt-out agreement permits an employee to work more than the maximum average of 48 hours a week set out in the Working Time Regulations 1998. However, it must be voluntarily entered into by the employee. You can’t force them to sign it.

A working option

If you want your staff to work for more than 48 hours a week on a regular basis, you will need to ask them to sign our Opt-out Agreement. This is because, under the Working Time Regulations 1998, workers cannot lawfully be required to work more than an average of 48 hours a week, calculated over a 17-week reference period (extended to 26 or 52 weeks in certain, limited circumstances). Workers may, however, agree to work more than the average of 48 hours provided they do so voluntarily by signing a written opt-out agreement. We’ve also included a cover letter to the employee to go with our Opt-Out Agreement explaining the provisions in brief.

In it for the duration

The opt-out agreement may apply for a specific period, for example, one year, or it may apply indefinitely. It’s entirely up to you what you agree with your employee. Likewise, it is normally terminable by the worker giving not less than seven days’ written notice, but you can specify in the agreement that the employee has to give a longer notice period of up to a maximum of three months.

For the record

You must keep a record of all those employees who have opted-out of the 48 hour working week. Keeping copies of the signed opt-out agreements on a central file should be sufficient for these purposes. Note that you do not need to keep records of the actual hours worked by those workers who have chosen to opt out.