What is a ‘night period’?
Any hours worked between 11 pm and 6 am are considered as a night period, unless agreed differently between the employer and employee, and staff working at least 3 hours in the night period are considered night workers.
If a different nightly period is agreed upon, it must be confirmed in writing, be 7 hours long and include both midnight and 5 am.
What pay rates apply for night workers?
There is no higher working rate applied to night workers, however, the National Minimum Wage rates still apply and your employer might reward you for working antisocial hours as a gesture of goodwill.
Are there any working hour limits?
Yes. If you’re a night worker, you cannot work more than an average of 8 hours in a 24-hour period. The average is usually calculated on a 17-week period, however, the span can be extended up to 52 weeks, based on the employee-employer agreement. Regular overtime needs to be included in the average while occasional overtime should not. It is important to note that the employee cannot opt out of this limit.
Whether the employee is expected to work or sleep most of the shift will determine how many hours he or she will get paid for. For example, if the employee is expected to work most of the sleep-in shift, they will get paid for both hours worked and slept. And the other case, where it’s expected to sleep most of the shift, they will get paid only for the hours they are woken up to perform tasks.
More information on this subject can be found on HMRC’s Night working hours web page.