Road Transport Working Time Directive

Prior to its introduction on the 4th April 2005, the Working Time Directive (WTD) for the road transport sector had been the subject of furious debate in Brussels and Westminster since its initial proposal in 1997.

Do not be under any misapprehension on this, what applied in April 2005, applies today, if your company operates 'In Scope' vehicles (those vehicles subject to EU drivers hours and tachograph regulations) the Road Transport Working Time Directive applies to YOU and there is NO OPT-OUT.

The implications of the WTD for road transport operations were expected to be significant and hard felt, and regardless of whether you are an operator of 'In Scope' vehicles within the manufacturing industry (or other), your company will feel the effects in the same way as operators within the general haulage sector.

Consider this

At the time of introduction, the Department for Transport (Dft) had estimated that an additional 12,600 vehicles could be required with a compliance cost to the Road Transport Industry in excess of £1 billion per annum. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) carried out a survey at the time and suggested that an average 48-hour working week - without utilising periods of availability (POA's) - could result in a 10% reduction in productivity, resulting in a requirement for an additional 12,900 extra drivers of regulated vehicles - approximately 5% of the then-current UK driver workforce.

Consider also, with the national driver shortage at the time, and which we still have at the time of writing this in 2020, the problem would have become further compounded as existing drivers would be in considerable demand, possibly resulting in certain sectors within transport offering better pay and conditions to attract drivers away from their then-current employers.

We believe that many of these factors have transpired. However, we are also aware that few (if any) operators have been the subject of any form of WTD investigation by the policing authority (DVSA), and we are also aware that it is possible that there are still operators of In-Scope vehicles who have done little or nothing to implement a WTD policy within their operations some fifteen years after the implementation date.

What actually applies?

In simple terms, the following:

  • An average 48-hour working week over a defined reference period (minimum 4 months).
  • A maximum of 60 hours in any week - capped.
  • Statutory annual leave and any sick leave and/or maternity/paternity leave counts as working time.
  • A maximum of 10 hours night work in any 24 hour period. Night work is defined as any mobile workers time - where any part - falls between 00.00 hrs and 04.00 hrs for mobile workers of commercial vehicles.
  • The right to a 30-minute break if working time totals between 6 and 9 hours, or 45 minutes if over 9 hours - Breaks must be of at least 15 minutes duration.

Break requirements under the regulations are in addition to those under the EU drivers’ hour’s rules. But were mainly driving work is undertaken it is possible that working time breaks may be satisfied by breaks from driving taken under the EU drivers’ hours’ rules. The EU drivers’ hours rules break requirements take precedence when driving.

  • Self-employed drivers were not covered by the directive until May 2012.
  • Occasional drivers (as defined) will remain covered under the 1998 Working Time Regulations

What Defines Working 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 admin.
  • Waiting to load or unload the vehicle at the depot; however, if waiting time is known in advance by your drivers at a client's premises, in which case this would meet the criteria of availability - 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 (EC561/06).
  • A week is defined as being from 00.00 Monday to 24.00 on the following Sunday for the purposes of recording data for the reference period.

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 (EC561/06).
  • 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 the 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 - those subject to normal terms and conditions of employment as a driver as per any of the above.

Legislation -