Working hours, overtime and holidays in Scotland

Working hours in Scotland are controlled by Working Time Regulations. Find out about the rights it provides and how it impacts the hours people can work.


Working hours in Scotland and the rest of the UK are governed by the Working Time Regulations 1998. These regulations apply to part-time and full-time workers, including agency workers and freelancers, but not to those who are self-employed pursuing a business activity on their own account.

These Regulations govern the hours most people can work, in particular:

  • Work, on average, no more than 48 hours per week
  • 5-6 weeks of paid annual leave
  • Minimum rest break entitlements
  • One day off each week or two days off every two-weeks
  • Limit the hours of night work
  • Special rules for young workers

Workers can choose to work longer than the 48-hour weekly maximum by agreeing to ‘opt out’ of this limit.


Overtime is normally any time an employee works beyond their normal hours. Overtime can be voluntary or compulsory. The employment contract you provide should include terms and conditions about overtime pay rates, if applicable, and how these are calculated.

In Scotland, there’s no legal obligation to pay workers for overtime. However, your employee’s average pay for the total hours they work must not go below the National Minimum Wage.


Almost all workers in Scotland are legally entitled to 5-6 weeks paid holiday a year, including bank holidays. This equates to 28 days for a worker who does a standard five-day week. Your business can also choose to offer more paid holiday than this but must not provide for less.