Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the drivers’ hours rules: delivery of essential items to retailers

In response to circumstances stemming from COVID-19 the Department for Transport has agreed a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales. This relates specifically to those involved in the delivery of food, non-food and over the counter pharmaceuticals when the following journeys are being undertaken:

1) Distribution centre to stores (or fulfilment centre).

2) From manufacturer or supplier to distribution centre (including backhaul collections).

3) From manufacturer or supplier to store (or fulfilment centre).

4) Between distribution centres and transport hub trunking.

5) Transport hub deliveries to stores.

This exemption does not apply to drivers undertaking deliveries directly to consumers.

The temporary relaxation will apply from 00.01 Wednesday 18 March 2020 until 23.59 Thursday 16 April 2020. However, this can be extended or withdrawn should circumstances change.

Of course drivers’ hours regulations are in place to ensure anti competitive behaviour and road safety. The Department have stressed that driver safety must not be compromised and gives a warning to employers that contemplation should always be given to driver safety and to ensure that drivers are not driving whilst tired and that they remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.

The EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

  1. a) Replacement of the EUdaily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours;
  2. b) Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 hours to 9 hours;
  3. c) Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively;
  4. d) Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six x 24 hour periods, for after seven x 24 hour periods; although two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight;
  5. 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 practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and employees and/or driver representatives.

A manual record must be made if the drivers are driving under these relaxed rules.

Operators must consider this matter carefully, consider their drivers’ welfare and ensure that they are clear on what is expected of them and (as a safeguard) drivers to sign to say that it has been explained and understood ideally by way of a toolbox talk.

Should you require anymore information or advice in relation to this our Transport team are stood by to assist. Our main aim is to keep you safely on the road.

You can read the temporary rules in full here.

Michelle O’Garro

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