The Working Time Directive limits the hours you work to an average of 48 over a 17-week period. However, many employers make workers sign an ‘opt-out’ that means they can be expected to work more than 48 hours a week.

What most bosses don’t tell you is that if you’ve signed this opt out, you can tell your employer that you want to opt back in. All you need to do is put it in writing. It will take effect in 7 days time unless a different period is specified in the original opt-out, up to a maximum of three months.

The employer has no right to sack you or take any disciplinary action for exercising this, or any other rights. If they do, going to an Employment Tribunal might force them to pay modest compensation.

Workers are protected from discrimination on grounds of race, sex, disability, age and sexual orientation from day one. Other rights kick in after 12 months. You should be careful if you think your boss will react badly to you claiming your rights early on, as they can sack you without giving good reasons.

Some types of work are partially exempt from the Directive, such as training doctors, domestic servants, security guards and those doing a seasonal job, such as in agriculture.

For more information on your rights at work:

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