MCL Transport Consultants

Reference Periods

What follows here is a simplified overview of what reference periods are, we've not gone overboard in our explanation of this section as in essence there really isn't a need to. Further information pertaining to reference periods, their construction and data collection can be found within this section via the link entitled Record Keeping.

What are Reference Periods?
The Government defines a reference period as a 17 (or occasionally 18) week period where a worker's time is calculated and averages a 48 hour week. However, the reference period can be extended to 26 weeks where there is a collective or workforce agreement in place. Rolling periods or fixed calendar periods can be implemented to suit the needs of individual businesses, however, agreements must be in place before changes take effect.

Default reference periods will begin at 00.00 on the nearest Monday morning on or after 1 April, 1 August and 1 December each year. Therefore if a company fails to set its reference periods, then the Government's default dates are applicable.

Since the inception of the WTD (April 4th 2005) and based upon the governments defaults, we have calculated the following Reference Period dates for 2017 - 2018 as follows:

There are several ways to obtain mobile workers data to include within a Reference Period. You can use an external source, such as a Transport Consultancy, a Tachograph Analysis company, or you could contact either the Freight Transport Association (FTA) or the Road Haulage Association (RHA), who both have departments specialising in this aspect of your legal requirements. However, if you are an operator with 20 or less vehicles, you may find it cheaper and easier to calculate your own data.

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Workforce Agreement
If your company wants to put in place a set of reference periods that are specific to it's operation, then you are obliged to enter into a workforce agreement with your staff.

The Department for Transport (DfT) have outlined the structure of how a workforce agreement should be arrived at, as follows:

To be valid, a workforce agreement:

Source - Department for Transport
Workforce Agreement Wtd Workforce Agreement - download here

If your company fails to put in place a workforce agreement within a definitive reference period, then the government 17 & 18 week reference periods will apply at all times.

Holiday & Sickness Impact
You should note that any full week(s) of statutory holiday or Sickness taken from January 1st in any year, that fall within a reference period are to be calculated at 48 hours (9.6 hours per day). However, this only applies to the statutory entitlement laid down in the directive, which is 4 weeks in both cases

As an example therefore, if a mobile worker is entitled to 5 weeks holiday and takes them as 5 full weeks, and was sick for 2 weeks and 3 days during the year, the calculations for the WTD would be as follows: -

Key Information
Key Information
Statutory holidays for Mobile Workers is a minimum of 4 weeks per annum, which must be taken within the year in question (Jan 1st - Dec 31st), holidays cannot be rolled over.

Changing Employers
Where a mobile worker ends employment with one employer, who operates road transport services for passengers or the movement of goods, during a reference period, and commences work for another, all relevant hours worked for the previous employer should be included in the calculation of working time for the reference period in question. In such instances, employers must ask the new mobile worker in writing for an account of time spent working elsewhere. The mobile worker must declare this information in writing.

The WTD isn't all about more administrative pain, it can supply you with a great deal of information on costs, and can assist in the decision process if your fleet is engaged in many types of operational activities, being particularly useful where multi-drop activities are concerned.

Further Reading
For further information relating to Reference Periods, please use the link below.

Reference periods for calculating average weekly working time - Dept for Transport

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