The Department for Transport (DfT) have announced that there will be a temporary and limited relaxation of the enforcement of drivers' hours rules in England, Scotland, and Wales for the drivers of vehicles involved in the delivery of:
- non-food (personal care and household paper and cleaning)
- over the counter pharmaceuticals
This means that lorry drivers transporting goods to supermarkets, chemists and other businesses supplying essential supplies can stay on the road longer without a break to help the response to COVID-19.
This temporary relaxation applies from 00:01 on Wednesday 18 March 2020 and will run until 23:59 on Thursday 16 April 2020 and will apply only to the drivers specified in this notice.
The government have said that it may withdraw or extend the change to meet changing circumstances.
Employers must still (obviously) ensure that drivers are safe to drive longer hours and remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users. In other words, drivers mustn't drive when tired or ill.
New working hour limits
- Daily rest requirements are reduced from 11 to 9 hours
- Weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) are increased to 60 and 96 hours respectively
- Starting a weekly rest period after six-24 hours periods is extended to after seven 24 hours period but two regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight
- Daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving are replaced with a break of 45 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving.
Drivers’ must not use the rest periods outlined in 1 and 4 at the same time. This is to ensure drivers are able to get adequate rest.
Implementing the new rules
You will need to agree these new changes with the drivers or any union you recognise that represents them.
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.
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"We are clear that driver safety must not be compromised, and they should not be expected to drive whilst tired. Employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees, other road users, and anyone involved in loading and unloading vehicles.These arrangements may change during this time." HSE