Duty Time

The duty time provisions are found in Regulation 22 and Annex E of Police Regulations 2003.

Different provisions apply for members working full-time, on part-time arrangements, and/or on variable shifts. The following is a summary of duty time provisions for officers working full-time and on regulation eight hour or Variable Shift Arrangements(VSAs).

In respect of part-time arrangements, an expanded Section G for this booklet is currently being prepared. In the meantime, for further information on part-time provisions, contact your JBB.

Constables and sergeants

Duty rosters

Duty rosters must set out members's rest days, free days, public holidays on which they are required to work and specific start and finish times of scheduled periods of duty for at least three months from when it comes into effect and must be published at least one month before they commence.

The roster should only be changed due to exigencies of duty. In terms of good practice, PNB Circular 10/1 states at paragraph 20 that “Subject to exigencies of duty any changes should be notified to officers one month in advance.'

Normal period of duty

The normal daily period of duty (including an interval for refreshment of 45 minutes) is eight hours which, as far as exigencies of duty permit, will be performed in one tour.

Where a normal duty period is performed in more than one tour and the member does not travel to and from home between tours, the refreshment break should normally be included at the beginning or end of one of those tours. The refreshment break is not allowed when a member takes a half-day's annual leave.

Variable shift arrangements

Variable shift arrangements (VSAs) must provide for hours of duty equivalent to those of a member with a normal daily period of duty of eight hours and who receives a day's leave on each public holiday and two rest days per week.

A chief officer may announce that s/he intends to bring into operation variable shift arrangements for all, or a group of, constables and sergeants.

Before making the announcement the chief officer must consult the JBB and the members affected, allowing them at least 30 days to make representations and must take into account the likely effects of the new arrangements on their personal circumstances. The chief officer may only bring the arrangements into operation at least 30 days after his/her announcement.

Inspectors and chief inspectors

Duty Time

The regulations do not require rosters to be published for full-time members of the rank of inspector and chief inspector. Inspectors and chief inspectors are not entitled to overtime allowances or public holiday/rest day working allowances.

Where an inspector or chief inspector has been prevented from taking a day's leave on a public holiday, or from taking two rest days in any week, within the next twelve months, subject to exigencies of duty, s/he should be granted a day's leave in lieu of any public holiday or rest day not taken.

All federated ranks

Travelling time treated as duty

Travelling time between the member's home and his/her usual place of duty is generally not treated as duty time.

Where a member is required to perform the normal daily period of duty, or rostered shift, in more than one tour and travels home between tours, subject to any reasonable limit imposed by the chief officer the time occupied in travelling to and from home is treated as duty time.

When a member is recalled to duty between two tours of duty, or two rostered shifts, travelling time to and from home (as a consequence of the recall) also counts as duty time, subject to any reasonable limit.

Where a member is held in reserve [1] and is required to travel, other than during his/her normal daily period of duty or rostered shift, travelling to and from home is treated as duty time.

Working time regulations

The Working Time Regulations 1998 implement the Working Time Directive (a European Health and Safety provision) into domestic law. They are expressly stated to apply to police officers.

The main rights under the Working Time Regulations are:

  • a limit of an average of 48 hours a week over a reference period which a worker can be required to work (unless otherwise agreed with the individual);
  • a limit on night workers' normal hours of work of an average of 8 hours work in 24 (and no more than 8 hours in any 24 during which night work is performed if subject to special hazards or strain);
  • 11 consecutive hours' rest per day or compensatory rest if in exceptional circumstances rest periods are not provided;
  • a day off each week (24 hours per week or 48 hours per fortnight);
  • an in-work rest break of at least 20 minutes if the working day is longer than 6 hours;
  • 28 days (including public holidays) paid leave per year; and
  • free health assessments for night workers.
  • There are various circumstances in which the rights do not apply.

These are quite complicated, but in essence are likely to relate to variations agreed with the JBB or unforeseen emergencies.

Generally, Police Regulations 2003 provide better rights than the Working Time Regulations 1998. However, there can be occasions where the organisation of working time may breach the Working Time Regulations. Certain aspects of the Working Time Regulations can be varied by local agreement between the JBB and the Chief Officer. For more information about the position in your force, contact your JBB office.

Some breaches can comprise criminal offences. The enforcing agency is the Health and Safety Executive. There are other rights available before an Employment Tribunal. The time limit for any such tribunal claim is generally three months less a day from the relevant breach. Contact your JBB for further information.

A member is held in reserve if he or she is serving away from his or her normal place of duty and is required to stay in a particular, specified place rather than being allowed to return home. A member is not held in reserve if serving away from his or her normal place of duty only by reason of being on a training course or carrying out routine enquiries.

Produced and issued by Research and Policy Support PFEW HQ - updated August 2016

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