Live-in workers and rest breaks

Although UK law gives employees certain statutory rights, domestic employees, including nannies (whether live-in or live-out) are exempt from some of the provisions relating to working time. In particular, they are excluded from the provision that limits the maximum number of hours worked each week to 48. This means that it is lawful for employers to advertise jobs that require a working week that is in excess of 48 hours. However, working hours must be agreed before the employment contract is signed. The employer cannot subsequently give notice of their intention to extend a nanny’s working hours without understanding that this is a renegotiation of contract that the nanny is not obliged to accept. Despite this, nannies still retain certain rights relating to working time.

Rest breaks during the working day

Domestic workers are entitled to an uninterrupted 20-minute rest break for every six hours worked. There is no obligation for this rest break to be paid, and it may take the form of a tea or lunch break. In reality, for nannies this right can be impossible to take up due to the need for the ongoing supervision of the children in their care. Consequently, most nannies recognise that they must be flexible when it comes to rest breaks.

Daily rest periods

For every 24-hour period worked, a nanny is entitled to a daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours.

Weekly rest periods

For each week worked, a nanny is entitled to one consecutive 24-hour period off work.


A full-time nanny is entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year. This can include bank holidays.

What if it is not possible to take the prescribed rest periods?

Most nannies accept that it will not always be possible to take the rest breaks and periods to which they are entitled. However, there is provision for a worker who has been required to work during a rest period to take compensatory rest later. This should be the same length of time as the rest period that the worker was not able to take. Further information is available from Acas but sometimes it may be necessary to seek specialist legal advice or to look for a new position.

What happens if a nanny is asked to work longer hours than contracted for?

The employer cannot expect additional hours to be worked without agreeing either additional pay, perhaps at an hourly rate, or equivalent time off in lieu. Moreover, the nanny’s rights to rest periods remain applicable.