By Faye Holt Posted on 6th August 2021
The temporary relaxation of drivers hours that applies until 11:59pm on 8 August 2021 has been extended.
The extension of the drivers hours temporary relaxation of the rules reflects the exceptional circumstances arising from the cumulative impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and an acute shortage of drivers of heavy goods vehicles, which adversely affect the carriage of goods by road, causing acute supply chain pressures.
The temporary relaxation to the drivers’ hours rules must not be used if any one of these 3 conditions is not met.
1. Evidence of detriment to wider community
Proof that there is a significant risk of a threat to human and/or animal welfare or a failure of a particular supply chain that will have a serious impact on essential public services must be provided.
Transport operators must obtain, to their satisfaction, confirmation from their customers that such a risk exists and that the customer is unlikely to be able to resolve the risk in other ways.
In the context of the transportation of food, fuel and medicines, this would include avoiding the risk of acute shortages at retail outlets that would be readily apparent to consumers.
In respect of these sectors and essential public services, detrimental factors can include losses of production that would lead to shortages. However, shortages at retail outlets are not a justification in respect of many types of goods, such as domestic building supplies, clothing or supplies to eat-in or takeaway food and drink.
2. Evidence that a relaxation would lead to a significant improvement in the situation
This includes evidence that the risk is unlikely to be resolved without using the relaxation.
3. Driver safety must not be compromised
Operators and self-employed drivers must assess the risks of using the temporary relaxation and implement suitable control measures and/or mitigations, so that the safety of the driver, other road users and those involved in loading and unloading is not compromised.
Transport managers should make sure that a risk assessment has been carried out and appropriate controls put in place. They should also continue to monitor and review where necessary as long as the relaxation is used.
It is important to consider the risk of fatigue and the effect of the relaxation on shift patterns. For example, if the relaxation related to daily driving time has been used, it should not be followed by a reduced daily rest period and should be used in the context of stable start times for shifts.
Information about fatigue and shift work is available.
It should be noted that the temporary relaxation has been brought in primarily to add reliability and resilience to duty rosters, as opposed to extra scheduling of deliveries.
It is also essential that use of the relaxation is agreed genuinely with drivers involved, including in the light of a driver’s specific circumstances.
Drivers continue to be bound by the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005. This legally limits the amount of working time (including driving) a driver can do in any given week to a maximum of 60 hours, with an average of 48 hours a week calculated over a rolling 17- to 26-week period.
If you are concerned that a driver or the vehicle operator is breaking the drivers’ hours rules, (including the terms of this temporary relaxation) or the working time regulations, this should be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
It is permitted for a driver using this relaxation to drive outside GB during the period of this relaxation. However, this relaxation only covers driving undertaken within GB.
Relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules
The retained EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows.
The replacement of either:
- the permitted increase to the daily driving limit from 9 hours to 10 hours with one of 11 hours (allowed up to twice in 1 week). All other daily driving limits remain at 9 hours.
- the requirement to take a regular weekly rest period of 45 hours in a 2-week period with an alternative pattern of weekly rest periods as specified below, and an increase to the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours. This enables 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods to be taken
Find more detailed information on the Gov.uk website here