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Published 1 April 2020
In order to assist with the delivery and supply of goods during the Covid-19 outbreak, the Department of Transport has announced the temporary relaxation and enforcement of GB and EU drivers’ hours rules relating to the carriage of goods by road.
The relaxation of these rules is due to end at 23:59 on 21 April 2020, but given the projected trajectory of the outbreak and the consequent demand upon essential services, it is entirely possible that the relaxation of the rules will be extended.
The EU drivers’ hours rules are temporarily relaxed as follows:
a) Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours
b) Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours
c) Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively
d) Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six 24 hours periods, for after seven 24 hours period; although 2 regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly restperiod will still be required within a fortnight
e) 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 relaxation ‘a’ and ‘d’ at the same time. This is to ensure drivers are able to get adequate rest.
The GB drivers’ hours rules are temporarily relaxed as follows:
a) Replacement of the GB duty time limit of 11 hours with 12 hours
b) Replacement of the GB daily driving time limit of 10 hours with 11 hours
Drivers can only take advantage of this temporary relaxation 5 days in any 7 day period, and must take a rest period of 24 hours within the same 7 day period when taking advantage of this relaxation.
The DfT have emphasised that it is of course vital that driver safety should not be compromised and drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired. The relaxation of these rules have been introduced in response to these unprecedented times. These rules should only be used when necessary, otherwise normal drivers’ hours rules should be followed.
Richard Burnett of the Road Hauliers Association echoed this when he said “The relaxation in hours will not reduce the levels of enforcement of the drivers’ hours. It is vital that companies only use these relaxed rules when needed and companies must monitor drivers to ensure they do not drive tired or in any way unfit. The need for compliance with the rules is absolute. This relaxation must be used wisely, not abused recklessly.”
On the subject of drivers welfare, it is important to remember that drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work. While Regulations 20 and 21 of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 stipulate that sanitary and handwashing facilities must be provided in a workplace, at this time the use of such facilities to prevent the further spread of infection is more essential than ever.
The HSE have said they will update their guidance in light of the current pandemic. We will of course keep you appraised of any further updates.
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