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Advice line: variations in working time arrangements in the health field

Ian Taylor looks at variations in working time arrangements in the health field.

A recent iCSP discussion on on-call payments, compensatory rest and time off in lieu issues highlighted just how much employers’ rules, policies and practices vary around the country. 
While the Working Time Regulations (WTR) set out some basic principles in law, Agenda for Change (Section 27) requires employers to have their own policies about how they deal with these matters and how (if at all) these arrangements are paid. 
Some of the key provisions of the WTRs include: 
  • a 20-minute rest break if the working day is longer than six hours 
  • a rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours in every 24-hour period
  • where the 11-hour rest period is interrupted (by on-call callouts, for example), then an equivalent period of compensatory rest should be provided 
The CSP offers extensive guidance on WTRs and compensatory rest. This includes case studies on on-call, standby, and calculating average weekly hours. Visit our website for this information.  The CSP believes that compensatory rest should be paid, but the WTRs are silent on that point. We also believe that the 11-hour rest break between shifts, required by the WTRs, should be properly enforced – not least for staff and patient safety reasons. 
However, if an employer does not pay for compensatory rest but does enforce an uninterrupted 11-hour rest break, then members could be worse off financially.
Payment for compensatory rest should, therefore, be negotiated locally – wherever possible. The CSP information paper contains guidance for stewards and safety reps in this area.

Find out more 

If you are affected by an aspect of working time that you feel is unfair or leaves you worse off financially, or find an examples of safety being compromised as a result of your employer’s policies in this area, as a first step contact your CSP steward and/or safety rep. If you don’t have one, contact the CSP enquiry handling unit. Tel: 020 7306 6666 or email  
  • Ian Taylor is a CSP senior negotiating officer 

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