What rights do night workers have?
Night workers enjoy various legal protections, the breaches of which can lead to costly tribunal claims. it is therefore important to identify night workers, ensure they are working within the limits and, if not, make sure any changes are made to current practices to rectify this.
Who is classed as a night worker?
A night worker is someone who (on the majority of their working days) work for at least 3 hours of their daily working time during the period 11pm and 6am. Here is some useful Government Guidance on night working.
What protections do night workers have?
The law sets out several protections for night workers (Working Time Regulations 1998):
- Night work including special hazards or heavy physical/mental strain: working time must not exceed 8 hours in any 24-hour period (rolling 17-week reference period).
- Duty to protect health and safety: Company’s must take all reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of workers, including ensuring they work within the above limit;
- Young workers: generally not permitted to work at night.
- Free Health Assessments:
- Must be offered to a worker before they are assigned to night work, this must be offered, to determine their fitness to carry out night work;
- Following assignment, night workers have a right to have these offered regularly;
- Must be completed by a medical practitioner; and
- Please note, workers do not have to accept but they need to be offered. If accepted, the assessment must remain confidential.
Workers generally cannot ‘opt out’ of the night working restrictions.
Advice for businesses
To ensure your night workers are working within the legal restrictions, I recommend:
- Reviewing your current workforce, identifying anyone who is a night worker, by reference to their hours worked;
- Once night workers are identified, review their average hours worked to ensure they meet the 8-hour / 24-hour requirement above;
- If health assessments have not been offered, start this now. The worker does not need to accept but you are under a legal obligation to offer them;
- Keep records of when you offer health assessments to night workers, including:
- date offered;
- accepted – yes or no;
- if yes, details of arrangements made;
- if no, why declined; and
- retain confidential copy of the health assessment (for 2 years).
- Offer training to support your night workers, including health and safety.
If you have any queries in relation to the above or you are unsure whether your workers qualify as night workers and of their rights, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Employment Lawyers on 01202 525333 for further advice.