Work & Working Time Rules

Working Time Rules 

The working time rules that apply depend on whether the vehicle is being driven in the scope of the EU or GB domestic drivers’ hours’ rules.

Drivers who are subject to the EU rules on drivers' hours and tachographs will normally have to comply with the rules on working time as laid out in the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations, which were brought into force on 4 April 2005. 

Driving under the EU Drivers’ Hours Rules 

If the vehicle is being operated in the scope of the EU drivers’ hours rules, then the driver is subject to the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 (as amended – ‘the 2005 Regulations’), unless the driver is an occasional mobile worker (see text boxes at the end of this Annex for definitions). 

The main provisions of the 2005 Regulations are as follows: 

  • Weekly working time must not exceed an average of 48 hours per week over the reference period. A maximum working time of 60 hours can be performed in any single week providing the average 48-hour limit is not exceeded 
  • Night work: if night work is performed, working time must not exceed 10 hours in any 24-hour period. Night time is the period between 00.00 and 04.00 for goods vehicles and between 01.00 and 05.00 for passenger vehicles. The 10-hour limit may be exceeded if this is permitted under a collective or workforce agreement 
  • Breaks: 
    • Mobile workers must not work more than 6 consecutive hours without taking a break 
    • If working hours total between 6 and 9 hours, working time should be interrupted by a break or breaks totalling at least 30 minutes 
    • If working hours total more than 9 hours, working time should be interrupted by a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes 
    • Breaks should be of at least 15 minutes duration 
  • Rest: the regulations are the same as the EU or AETR drivers’ hour's rules 
  • Record keeping: records need to be kept for two years after the period in question 

The reference period for calculating the 48-hour week is normally 17 weeks, but it can be extended to 26 weeks if this is permitted under a collective or workforce agreement. 

There is no ‘opt-out’ for individuals wishing to work longer than an average 48-hour week, but breaks and ‘periods of availability’ do not count as working time. 

Periods of Availability - POA 

Generally speaking, a period of availability (POA) is waiting time, the duration of which is known in advance. Examples of what might count as a  POA are accompanying a vehicle on a ferry crossing or waiting while other workers load/unload the vehicle. For mobile workers driving in a team, a  POA would also include time spent sitting next to the driver while the vehicle is in motion, unless the mobile worker is taking a break or performing other work such as navigation. 

In addition, also applicable are two provisions under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended – ‘the 1998 Regulations’). These are:

  • An entitlement to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave 
  • Health checks for night workers 

If vehicles are only driven occasionally subject to the EU drivers’ hours' rules, a driver may be able to take advantage of the exemption from the 2005 Regulations for occasional mobile workers (see details below for the criteria). 

Self-employed drivers were brought into the scope of the EU Working Time Directive 2002/15/EC in GB in May 2012, by the Road Transport (Working Time) Amendment Regulations 2012. 

The DVSA enforces the provisions of the 2005 Regulations and the requirement for health checks for night workers (under the 1998 Regulations).

For any questions about matters relating to annual leave, call the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) national helpline on 0300 123 1100, for free support and advice. 

What Defines Working Time / Duty Time? 

The regulations define 'working time' as being from the beginning to the end of the mobile workers working day, where the mobile worker is at his/her workstation at the disposal of the employer for the purposes of carrying out his/her function, where that function is devoted to all road transport activities. 

Working time applicable to all mobile workers includes the following:

  • Driving an 'in scope' (regulated) vehicle. 
  • Loading and unloading of the vehicle. 
  • Vehicle cleaning and maintenance. 
  • Safety work including defect checks and administration. 
  • Waiting to load or unload the vehicle at the depot. However, if the waiting time is known in advance by a driver at a client's premises this would meet the criteria of the POA. 
  • Overtime (as per points above). 
  • Training where it is part of normal work and also part of the commercial operation. 
  • Any secondary employment (driving of a regulated vehicle) where the points above apply. However, where any other form of secondary employment, including non-regulated driving, is concerned, EU driver's hours and tachograph regulations will apply. 

Who is affected? 

Effectively, an employed worker who either drives or crews an 'in scope' vehicle as laid out below:  

  • Mobile workers (drivers and crew), involved in operations subject to EU driver's hour's regulations. 
  • Occasional drivers who drive 'in scope' vehicles for more than 15 days within a 26 week reference period or any occasional driver who does so for more than 10 days in a reference period of fewer than 26 weeks.  

Examples also include despatch/warehouse staff who occasionally drive 'in scope' vehicles, and fall into the category of a 'mobile worker'. 

  • Agency drivers who are subject to normal terms and conditions of employment as a driver as per any of the above.