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Education and the European Working Time Regulation 

The European Working Time Regulation limits employees to working an average of 48 hours a week measured over a 26 week reference period. It also stipulates:

  • Minimum rest periods (11 hours continuous rest in 24; 24 hours continuous rest in 7 days; 48 hours continuous rest in 14 days; 20 minute break in work periods greater than 6 hours);
  • Annual leave (5.6 weeks per annum – pro-rata for part-time staff); and
  • Limits night working (average of no more than 8 hours work in 24 over the reference period). 

 

The EWTR applies to doctors in training. There is an option to opt out of the 48 hour working week but not the rest and leave requirements.

Further details of the regulations can be found on the NHS Employers website.

 

Balancing Educational and Clinical Commitments

During the course of their training, as well as clinical duties, trainees will attend a range of educational events, courses and study leave, many of which will be a specific requirement of their training.

Trainees should exercise judgement to ensure that their timetable of educational and clinical commitments does not result in them being too tired to get the best benefit from their training, to travel safely to and from their training or work and to carry out their clinical duties. Trainees should ensure that they are getting adequate breaks. Where this is not possible, trainees should inform the Director of Medical Education at their employing trust or Practice Manager at their employing GP practice.

Trainees should NOT perform clinical duties or travel if they are too tired to do so – doing so puts the safety of patients, themselves and other members of the public at risk.

Any trainees experiencing difficulties as a result of this should contact the Director of Medical Education at their employing trust or Practice Manager at their employing GP practice. Trainees still not satisfied with the response to their concern should raise this under their employer’s grievance policy.

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