In response to unprecedented pressures on local and national supply chains, the Department for Transport has pursuant to Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales. It has also introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of GB drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales.
The EU drivers’ hours rules can be 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 two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight
e) The requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving replaced with 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.
Relaxation of GB drivers’ hours rules
The GB drivers’ hours rules can be 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.
Timing of the relaxations
These two temporary relaxations apply from 00:01 on Monday 23 March 2020 and will run until 23:59 on Tuesday 21 April 2020. The department reserves the right to withdraw the relaxations earlier or extend the relaxations if circumstances change. In addition, the continuation of the relaxations past Sunday 5 April is subject to a specific review.
Who can use the relaxation
Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relevant relaxation where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys.
It is not necessary for drivers in scope of the current Delivery of LPG exemption to use this general relaxation. These drivers’ must not use this general relaxation and should use the one applicable to the delivery of LPG instead.
Interaction with other relaxations
There are currently 3 other active relaxations for certain journeys and sectors. These remain active during this exemption and expire at the date specified in the notice of those relaxations. These can be found here:
Delivery of essential items to retailers
Delivery of essential items to consumers
Delivery of LPG
Using the relaxation
The department wishes to make clear that 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.
When driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules, drivers must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.
When driving under the GB drivers’ hours rules, drivers must note on their record sheet (or tachograph charts or printouts, if applicable) the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.
The temporary relaxation of the rules described above reflects the exceptional circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. It must be used only where necessary, otherwise the normal drivers’ hours should be followed. The department encourages operators facing high work demands or work absences to take urgent measures to secure drivers who have limited or no current work. It will be working to encourage and facilitate the movement of drivers into priority areas.
The department wishes to emphasise that, as a general rule, we expect business to plan for and manage the risks of disruption to supply chains.
All enquiries regarding interpretation of these temporary arrangements should, in the first instance, be made to the Freight Operator Licensing and Roadworthiness Division at the Department for Transport via the switchboard on 020 7944 3000 (during office hours) or to the DfT Duty Office on 020 7944 5999 (out of office hours).