To ask the Solicitor-General how many officials working in ministerial private offices in the Department have worked more than a 48-hour week at any time in the last 12 months for which figures are available; how many of those had signed a waiver under working time regulations; and what percentage these figures represented of the total in each case.
The working time regulations provide workers with the protection of a limit of an average of 48 hours a week working time. This is not an absolute cap of 48 hours in any one week. This average is normally calculated over a 17-week reference period, although this can be longer in certain situations (26 weeks) and can be extended by agreement (up to 52 weeks). Workers may choose to work more than 48 hours per week over this reference period by signing an opt-out agreement, but employers cannot force a worker to sign an opt-out, and workers cannot be subjected to detriment for refusing to sign an opt-out. In the last 12 months four officials working in the combined Private Office for the Law Officers have worked more than a 48 hour week on occasions. This represents 100 per cent. of the total number of permanent staff in the office.
None of these staff have signed a waiver under the working time regulations, but are now being invited to consider doing so. The working hours of Private Office staff are kept under regular review.