§ Mr. Frank Field
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the benefits to residents of Birkenhead of new rights for night-shift workers. 
§ Mr. Sutcliffe
The Working Time Regulations came into force on 1 October 1998. The regulations limit working time to 48 hours per week averaged over a 17-week reference period. For night workers the limit is eight hours per day on average, including overtime where it is part of a night worker's normal hours of work. There is no opt-out from the night working time limit.
Night workers are entitled to 11 hours rest between working days, one day's rest per week, and a 20-minute in work rest break if the working period is longer than 6 hours.
All night workers should be offered a free health assessment before they start working nights and thereafter at regular intervals for as long as they are working nights. The health assessments should take account of the nature of the work and the restrictions on a worker's working time under the regulations. Workers who suffer from problems as a result of working at night should as far as practicable be offered alternative day work.
All workers are entitled to four weeks paid annual leave. There is no specific data available for night-shift workers in Birkenhead.