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HGV Drivers Hours Regulations relaxed

The Department for Transport (DfT) have introduced a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of EU Drivers hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales, but urge drivers not to compromise on safety.

Initial feedback on the decision across the driving community hasn't been popular, but as operators it is important to stay tuned with the details, so we've shared some of the highlights below.

WHY HAS THIS HAPPENED?

As a result of urgent and exceptional circumstances relating to certain road transport operations, including port congestion, unusual demand patterns and impact of Covid-19, the DfT have responded to the pressures they see on both national and local supply chains over the festive period.

The EU drivers hours regulation is there to enforce safety on the roads - setting restrictions on driving hours per day/week and required breaks within set time frames. 

But the temporary relaxation, which runs from 10th December until 30th December does not apply to everyone. According to the UK government, the relaxation applies to drivers in Great Britain involved in the following:

  1. Food and other essential goods from ports within Great Britain. This includes driving mixed loads with a significant content of such goods. Essential goods include category 1 goods. Where transport of other goods are required to enable category 1 goods to be moved out of ports, the relaxation is also applicable.
  2. Food and other essential goods for retail, including mixed loads with a significant content of such goods. This category includes the following journeys:
    • 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

It does not apply to drivers not subject to tachograph controls. E.g. most deliveries directly to the consumer.

HOW ARE THE HOURS BEING RELAXED?

  • Replacement of the requirement to take a full weekly rest period of 45 hours in a 2-week period with an alternative pattern of weekly rest periods specified below. This enables 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods to be taken on the run-up to Christmas.
  • That in a 4-week period beginning on 10 December, 2020, a driver can take 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours (allowing them to work two 6-day weeks); even if the week before the driver had already taken a reduced weekly rest.
  • However, any reduction in weekly rest shall be compensated for the normal way by an equivalent period of rest taken before the end of the third week following the week in question.
  • In addition, any rest taken as compensation for a reduced weekly rest period (other than the initial reduced weekly rest period) shall be attached to a regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours (which can be split over 2 regular weekly rest periods).
  • Increase the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours.

This relaxation must not be used in combination with existing rules for international driving, which allow for 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest breaks in certain circumstances. It is not recommended this relaxation be used for drivers engaged partly in international journeys.

Driver holding Scania steering wheel

Using the Relaxation Period

The practical implementation, is stated, should be through an agreement between employer, employee and driver representatives. 

Should an operator choose to use the relaxation period, they must notify the DfT by completing a series of paperwork. Details of which are linked below.

To find out more about the government relaxation on drivers hours visit their website. 

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