Fire stations in breach of Working Time Regulations with 96 hour shift


The High Court has decided that a shift pattern used by at least 4 fire stations to cut costs, which required firefighters to be on duty for 96 hours in a row, breached the Working Time Regulations.

The Fire Brigades Union argued that the ‘close proximity crewing’ (CPC) shift system violated regulation 10, which entitles workers to a break of at least 11 straight hours in each 24-hour period.

Close Proximity Crewing, which is voluntary, not compulsory, require firefighters to be on duty at the relevant station for 11 hours between 8am and 7pm, immediately followed by 13 hours on call from 7pm to 8am. (The European Court of Justice has previously ruled that time on call counts under the regulations.) This is repeated three times, before the firefighters are entitled to four days off. Several of these shifts per month had to be undertaken by the firefighters at the four stations.

Those who worked under the CPC arrangement were required to “opt in” and waive their right to a maximum working week of 48 hours.

“At a time of significant and ongoing funding cuts, this voluntary staffing system saved the fire service money while protecting our immediate 999 response to the public,” said deputy chief fire officer Martin Blunden. “We accept the judge’s ruling and we will now consider how else to save the £1.6m this system afforded us annually. Inevitably, and unfortunately, this is likely to mean changes that represent a reduction in our current 999 provision.”

Tensor Time and Attendance Systems – the easy way to adhere to employment regulations

Some companies mistakenly believe that the EU Working Time Regulations are entirely about 48-hour weeks, and forget that there are a number of other regulations which must be met.

Here are some less-known ones:

  • You must give night workers a health assessment at regular intervals.
  • Even if your workers have opted out of the maximum working week, you must still keep records of their opt-out and how many hours they have worked.

There are many regulations concerning rest periods. For example:

  • Production line workers or other workers performing monotonous work/ work with a pre-determined rate must have “adequate” rest breaks during their shift
  • Workers must have a minimum 20-minute rest break every 6 hours.
  • Workers must have at least eleven consecutive hours rest in each 24-hour period
  • Workers must have at least 24 hours rest in each 7-day period. If on a fortnightly schedule, this can either be two 24-hour rest periods per 14 days, or one 48 hours rest period per 14 days.

This list is incomplete and should not be taken as guidance; for the full list of Working Time Regulations as of 2003 please see here.

Luckily, the Tensor Time and Attendance System can help employers with these regulations. Our flagship WinTA.NET software includes all of the regulations. These can be altered to suit your situation: for example, to record your opted-out employees or set a fortnightly rest pattern.

Should you try to set a shift pattern which would infringe a Working Time Regulation, the system will pre-warn you.

You can also run reports which show helpful data such as:

  • Average hours worked during any period.
  • Instances when rest day rules have been broken.
  • When night workers are due a health assessment.

The context-sensitive search facility enables you to search using only part of a code or name, and you can filter results using standard and customised filters.

For more information about how our Time and Attendance system can help you or to Book a Demo, please get in touch.

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