Police Federation

Inspecting ranks (Part-2): Understanding rest days in lieu

The second blog in the series looks at rest days for the inspecting ranks. The beginning of the blog may seem straightforward to most, but the message is worth reinforcing. Later in the blog, we will go into more detail about how to better manage the days owed to you. 

5 April 2023


Rest days are there for you to enjoy but we all know that all too often they become interrupted due to the demands of the jobs we do. When a rest day is interrupted due to work, even if you are on call, it then becomes a working day.

It does not matter if you work for one minute or 23 hours and 59 minutes, for the Inspecting ranks as little as one minute is a day’s work. It also doesn’t need you to attend a place of work, work done from home also counts. So as soon as you complete ‘any work’ on a rest day you are given a rest day in lieu.

If you are working excessive hours, it may mean you need to reduce your hours elsewhere as time worked on a rest day is included for Working Time Regulations purposes (this will be covered in more detail in the next blog on flexibility).  

Does it need to be some meaningful work? 

I have heard suggestions that something meaningful needs to be completed but it is ‘any work’ that makes it a working day, and in turn, you are owed a day off in lieu.

The simple act of answering the phone on a work-related matter at home is work and results in your rest day being interrupted and it is no longer a rest day. This means that ‘job’ mobile phones need to be switched off so you enjoy the day or catch up on personal tasks and chores, something which you have little time to do on working days. 

Where should I record the rest days that are owed to me?  

Your force’s system should be able to record any days that you have worked and in return should generate a rest day in lieu. One advantage of being in the Inspecting ranks is that you can take these days back at any time over the next 12 months, exigencies permitting. The 1994 PNB Agreement brought about a significant change in relation to rest days worked.

Wherein other federated ranks should be notified within four days of when the new rest day is to be taken, that day to be re-rostered to a date within 28 days of the day worked, Inspecting ranks can take them off at any time (exigencies of duty permitting) within 12 months of accruing them, or 24 months in certain circumstances. 

Generally (see later in the blog for the exception) the only compensation Inspecting ranks get for working a rostered rest day is a day off in lieu, so you should carefully consider using days owed when it comes to balancing your hours if you are approaching the Working Time Regulation (WTR) limit. If you are working too many rest days, you may well find that you are at the upper limit of WTR.

If the force were to face a serious incident that needed dealing with, you could find yourself breaching the upper limit and putting strain on yourself. If this is the case, you may want to notify your line manager.  

Under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, you have a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and of other persons who may be affected by your acts or omissions at work. This includes ensuring that you can perform at your best by not being fatigued (Mark Andrews, PFEW Health and Safety Lead).

So, BALANCE YOUR HOURS and use the days off that are owed to you. I appreciate there are always matters that need attending to, but today’s emergency may not be as demanding as the next one. If you are in a position where you simply cannot take your rest days in lieu, then you may wish to speak to your local federation branch as the force could be placing unnecessary demands on you and your role. 

What to do if you have too many rest days in lieu or feel that even if you take a rest day in lieu that the day will still be interrupted?

This is a question I often hear and is normally caused by the demands of the role. First, the regulations are clear around rest days and when they will be lost.  

Any outstanding days over 12 months old may, however, be LOST. Regulations state that the ‘Inspector or Chief Inspector, shall, during the next following 12 months and so far as the exigencies of duty permit, be allowed or (as the case may be) granted a day’s leave in lieu of any such day not allowed or granted.’

In exceptional circumstances, the exigencies of duty or work demands have precluded the Inspector or Chief Inspector from taking a day's leave in lieu allowed or granted, the member will before 12 months from the date when the rest day was first rostered, be entitled to request from the chief officer that the entitlement to the day’s leave in lieu be extended for a further 12 months.

However, if you find yourself in a position where you have too many rest days in lieu, or feel that they will be interrupted if you take them, my advice is as follows:  

In either scenario, you MUST put your rest days in lieu in place of your scheduled working days (exigencies permitting). Once this is in the force’s system, it is a rest day.

If the force informs you in advance that they want you to work, or interrupt your rest day, or you agree to work by mutual consent with your management, then you are entitled to a new rest day in lieu to be taken in the 12 months of the new rest day interrupted. I call this ‘refreshing your rest days’, see the example below. 

  • 1 January 2023 rest day worked resulting in a rest day in lieu to be taken before 1 January 2024. 
  • You roster this day with a view of taking the rest day in lieu on 1 December 2023. 
  • However, you are required to work on 1 December 2023, or the day is interrupted, or you work on the day by mutual agreement. 
  • Then this results in another rest day in lieu to be taken before 1 December 2024.

Can I save my rest days in lieu and use them before I retire?

There are some who like to keep all their rest days in lieu and take them before they retire, to kind of bring the retirement date forward. I would argue and advise against doing it. The argument is that whilst it seems a good use of rest days in lieu, it may not be good for your well-being, but as this is my argument it is a personal matter for you.

The advice is that you shouldn’t assume that your force will compensate you for any rest days in lieu when you retire. Also, you may be required to work on days when you intended to take rest days in lieu and there may then be no time before retirement to use them. 

Is it true that we only get financial compensation for working on annual leave days?  

Whilst it is true, there is another scenario where you are entitled to financial compensation. Police Negotiating Board Circular 2014/8 details a PNB agreement which provides that where an officer, including a member of the Inspecting ranks, is required to work on a rest day or a free day within a period of leave, that day shall be compensated as if it were a day of annual leave, or a day was taken off in lieu of overtime.

So, it could be financially beneficial to include a day’s annual leave if you are using a number of rest days in lieu at the same time. In these circumstances, a period of leave is defined as a period of absence from duty of five days or more where at least one of those days is a day of annual leave and the other days are rostered rest days, days taken in lieu of overtime, public holidays or free days (or days taken in lieu thereof).


If you have any questions, please email john.partington@polfed.org.

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