26 March 1999

Work signatures

WITH lambing getting into full swing, farmers are being reminded that they must get written consent from employees if they are to work more than 48 hours a week.

"Under new European legislation, even part-time, temporary and some self-employed staff must not work more than 48 hours in a seven-day week without signing a written agreement," warns Edward Wingfield-Digby of land agents Knight Frank. Employers are obliged to keep accurate records of working times.

Statutory rest breaks must also be adhered to, including at least 11 consecutive hours in a 24-hour stretch, and a full 24 hours for every seven days worked – though there are special allowances for farm workers during peak periods.

"Many farmers may consider these new regulations as just another layer of administration," says Mr Wingfield-Digby. "But it important they are taken seriously, as failure to comply may result in criminal conviction and a fine."