Working Hours in the UK

This post covers working hours for junior doctors in the UK.


8 Hours Per Day

We work from 9 to 5 on most days.


5 Days A Week

Saturdays and Sundays are off. So we only work from Monday to Friday. If we are asked to work on the weekend, we get compensatory days off during the week.


40 Hours Per Week

Since we work 8 hours per day, five days a week, that makes it 40 hours per week.


On-Call/Night Duties

On-call/night duties are 12-hour shifts in the UK. We never work for more than 12 hours at a single shift in the UK.


Compensatory Off

After 12-hour shifts, we are given compensatory offs to make sure that we are not working more than what is stated in our contract. For example, if you work 12 hours on Monday and Tuesday each, you might get one day off in the week, to make that you do not work more than 40 hours per week.



Banding is the extra pay we make for working 12-hour shifts.


Explanation of Banding

Our basic contract includes 40 hours of work per week. However, the presence of 12-hour on-call/night duties means that we work slightly over 40 hours over per week (on average, it is 44 hours per week). We get paid extra to work these 12-hour shifts. This extra pay is known as banding. You can read more about Banding here.


Annual Leaves

We get 27 annual leaves in a calendar year. This means 9 leaves every 4 months. This is flexible. So you can take 10 days off in the first 4 months and 8 days off in the next 4 months.
These do not include Saturdays and Sundays. For example, if you decided to take a break from Monday, 10 September to Friday, 21 September, you would have taken 10 days off, plus 6 days off for Saturdays and Sundays. So you would actually get 16 days off. 
Thus, you can get 2 weeks off after every three and a half months. If you incorporate this into your working hours, your total working hours would fall below 40 hours per week on average.


Study Leaves

You can also request for a few (5 to 10) study leaves during the year for exams and courses.


Limit on Hours

  • A doctor cannot work more than 48 hours per week on average.
  • A doctor cannot work more than 72 hours per week at any point.
  • A doctor cannot work more than 5 consecutive long shifts (lasting more than 10 hours). This must be followed up by at least 48 hours of rest.
  • A doctor cannot work more than 4 consecutive long shifts (lasting more than 10 hours) finishing after 23:00. This must be followed up by at least 48 hours of rest.
  • A doctor cannot work more than 4 consecutive shifts where at least three hours of work falls into the period between 23:00 and 06:00. This must be followed up by at least 46 hours of rest.
  • A doctor cannot work more than 8 consecutive days. This must be followed up by at least 48 hours of rest.



  • A doctor cannot work more than two weekends in a row at any point.



  • A doctor must receive at least one 30-minute paid break for a shift rostered to last more than five hours, and a second 30-minute paid break for a shift rostered to last more than nine hours.



This is the summary of working hours for junior doctors in the UK.

  • 8-hour days.
  • 5 days a week.
  • 40 hours per week (on average).
  • The longest shift is for 12 hours.
  • Compensatory off for long shifts.
  • Extra pay for long shifts.
  • 27 days off per year.


Useful Link

Please go through the official contract for junior doctors here to read more.

25 thoughts on “Working Hours in the UK

  1. Thank you sir!! Can you tell us about rounds and number of patients in the hospital you have to attend to and about the computerized system.

  2. compensatory offs are optional right ? because if you take 2 night and 2 normal and one off it would be 40 hours unless u take nights during weekend ..
    u get banding for doing extra shifts regardless of the 40 hour per week ” if you do less or you must completed 40 hours per week first ”
    does banding subjected to taxation also ?

    1. Compensatory offs are not optional. You will be given a rota to follow. Some weeks you will work as much as 60+ hours and some weeks it will be less than 25 hours.

      The banding system has been replaced by this new contract.

  3. I heard there’s a new contract for junior doctors? Is it same for every employer, heard junior doctors were on strike?

  4. Hi doctor, thank you for your information! But i was wondering does this apply to Wales and Northern Ireland as well? Also, i heard that England is implementing the new junior doctor contract so banding system is abolished, so their salary would be lower than Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Is that true? Thank you.

    1. Yes, the banding system has been abolished. But we still get paid a pretty decent amount. I honestly don’t know much about Wales and Northern Ireland. But I think they have the same system. I had a job offer from Wales with similar terms. But I didn’t take it.

  5. Hello Dr. I’d like to know if the work gives room for one to continue studying, say a part time PG course while working?

  6. Very informative post ! I have a query regarding the annual leaves.
    Do they have to taken or can they be accumulated to be used later ? For example, if one were to travel back home or a vacation, can they accumulate the leave and then utilise it as they see fit ?

    1. You can take 27 annual leaves in the year at any point in the year, depending on rota and other people’s leaves.

    1. No, it is not. But it is best to start your UK career at a non-training level to become familiar with the system.

  7. Dr Khan. Is someone working for the NHS allowed to do locum also .And how many hours locum can one do a week ?Is it easy to get a place to do locum?

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