How to comply with Working Time Regulations, and protect your employees
If your organisation requires employees to work through the night, in particular during the period between 11pm and 6am, this is classed as night shift.
On this page you will find information and resources on your responsibilities for employees working night shifts, including health assessments.
Night work must be at least seven hours long and include the period from midnight to 5am.
Night workers should not work more than eight hours daily on average, including overtime, where it is part of a night worker's normal hours of work. You need to keep records of night workers' hours to prove they are not exceeding these limits. You must keep these records for at least 2 years.
Nightly working time should be averaged out over a reference period. This is usually 17 weeks. This period can be longer if agreed in a workforce or collective agreement. However, a night worker cannot opt out of the night working limit average of 8 hours on night work every 24 hours.
Workers must take at least two days off in every fortnight. This means that the average weekly limit for night working is 48 hours per week - six days at eight hours per day.
Workers under the age of 18 may not ordinarily work at night between 10pm and 6am, or between 11pm and 7am if the contract of employment provides for work after 10pm. However, exceptions apply in particular circumstances. You can find information about this on the
Some night work can be classed as having specific mental or physical strain. This is identified through
risk assessments or set out in collective or workforce agreements. If it is identified then the night shift period can't be longer than 8 hours in any 24 hour period.
The regulations restricting the length of night working to eight hours do not apply for some workers. For example
Nightshift workers are entitled to a free health assessment prior to the commencement of the role. Thereafter Health assessment should be offered periodically. Workers do not have to take up this offer.
These health assessments may be in the form of a questionnaire or, where necessary, a medical assessment.
You should get help from a suitably qualified health professional when devising and assessing the questionnaire. This could be from a doctor or nurse who understands how night working might affect health.
As with all health assessments, employers must keep a record of
Special consideration should be given to vulnerable groups such as new and expectant mothers, and young workers.
If an employee's health is affected by night work they should, where reasonably practicable, be offered alternative suitable day work. The
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) website has more information on working night shifts.
You can find out more about managing shift work on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) site.
Visit the HSE site for guidance on managing shift work
For information on workplace health, safety and wellbeing, contact your local health board team