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 are 12-hour shifts in the UK. We never work for more than 12 hours at a single shift in the UK.
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.
We get 27 holidays in a calendar year. This means 9 holidays 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, 4 September to Friday, 15 September, you would have taken 10 days off, plus 4 days off for Saturdays and Sundays. So you would get 14 days off.
Thus, you can get 2 weeks off after every three and a half months. If you incorporate this in your working hours, your total working hours would fall below 40 hours per week on average.
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.
Please go through the official contract for junior doctors here to read more.