The Department for Transport (DfT) has been relaxing the drivers’ hours rules due to the current exceptional circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 situation, writes Tim Ridyard of Ashtons Legal solicitors.
There are a number of temporary relaxations are now in place that have common points of guidance:
- The aim of the drivers’ hours and working time rules is to protect road safety and the working conditions of drivers and to reduce the risk of drivers being involved in fatigue-related accidents.
- As a general rules The DfT expects businesses to plan for and manage the risks of disruption to supply chains.
- Any relaxation of these rules should only be considered where genuinely necessary and when other supply chain management interventions are unable to alleviate issues.
- Driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired – employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.
- The practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and employees and/or driver representatives.
- The drivers in question must note on the back of their tachograph charts or digi printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. (This procedure is of course already in place under Article 12 EU 561/2006 where drivers may ordinary be forced to divert from the normal driving and rest rules, and endorse this on the chart/printout on arrival, at the latest, at the suitable stopping place.)
- Department for Transport is encouraging operators facing high work demands or work absences to take urgent measures to secure drivers who have limited or no current work. It is working to encourage and facilitate the movement of drivers into priority areas.
- The relaxations are time-limited and can be amended by shortening or extending them.
Scope: All sectors carriage of goods by road (most recent)
This temporary relaxation applies from 23 March 2020 until 21 April 2020 in England, Scotland and Wales. (Continuation of the relaxation past 5 April is subject to review.)
Scope: Essential deliveries to consumers’ homes
This temporary relaxation applies from 00:01 on Friday 20 March 2020 until 23:59 on Friday 3 April 2020 to drivers in England, Scotland and Wales involved in the delivery of food, non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning), over the counter pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies when undertaking the following journeys:
- manufacturer to consumer’s home
- stores / distribution centre to consumer’s home
- supplier to consumer’s home
- fulfilment centre to consumer’s home
- retailer to consumer’s home.
NB: ‘Consumer’ is defined as ‘an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession’.
Scope: Retail (food, certain non-food & over the counter pharmaceuticals)
This temporary relaxation applies from 00:01 on Wednesday 18 March 2020 and will run until 23:59 on Thursday 16 April 2020 and will apply only to the drivers specified in this notice.
Drivers of vehicles involved in the delivery of food, non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning) and over the counter pharmaceuticals when undertaking the following journeys (England, Scotland and Wales):
- Distribution centre to stores (or fulfilment centre)
- From manufacturer or supplier to distribution centre (including backhaul collections)
- From manufacturer or supplier to store (or fulfilment centre)
- Between distribution centres and transport hub trunking
- Transport hub deliveries to stores.
NB: This exemption does not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers.
Relaxation of the EU rules: Details
‘For the drivers and work in question, the EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:
- Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of nine hours with one of 11 hours*
- Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to nine hours
- Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively
- Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six-24 hours periods, for after seven 24 hours period; although two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight*
- The requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving replaced with a break of 45 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving.
*Drivers’ must not use these two relaxations at the same time. This is to ensure drivers are able to get adequate rest.’
Relaxation of the GB rules: Details (where non-EU rules)
‘The GB drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:
- Replacement of the GB duty time limit of 11 hours with 12 hours
- Replacement of the GB daily driving time limit of 10 hours with 11 hours.
Drivers can only take advantage of this temporary relaxation five days in any seven day period, and must take a rest period of 24 hours within the same seven day period when taking advantage of this relaxation.’
Ashtons will continue to update you about developments as they arise.
Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any road transport matters, please get in touch with Ashtons’ specialist Road Transport team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.