HR documents and templates

Time off work policies and procedures


You should set your normal working hours in your employment contract, or written statement of employment. Unless you operate within certain sectors, you cannot force your workers to work for more than 48 hours per week on average.

Special working time rules apply to young people. Find further information on hours, rest breaks and the working week.

If your workers wish to work for longer than 48 hours per week, they can choose to opt out of the Working Time Regulations. This must be done voluntarily and in writing in order for you to comply with the law.

Download our sample working time opt-out agreement (DOC, 14K).

Remember that you can't force your workers to sign an opt-out agreement or to cancel it, though a worker can cancel it voluntarily after giving you appropriate notice.

Annual leave

Most workers are legally entitled to paid holidays/annual leave.

A worker's statutory paid holiday entitlement in Northern Ireland is 5.6 weeks. This amounts to 28 days for a worker working a five-day week. This can include public and bank holidays. See:

The leave entitlement for part-time workers or those who are about to leave employment is calculated on a pro-rata basis. Use the following step-by-step guidance to calculate how much leave these workers may be entitled to:

For additional leave information, such us notice periods, restrictions and holiday pay, see know how much holiday to give your staff.

For further guidance see Employers' Handbook Section 4: Working hours, rest breaks and time off (PDF, 83K).