Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations

Q Are mobile workers in road transport covered by the Working Time Regulations 1998?

A Mobile staff in road transport who are covered by the Road Transport Directive (2002/15/EC) are subject to only certain provisions of the Working Time Regulations 1998. These are the right to four weeks’ paid annual leave and the right to health assessments for night workers. However, the Road Transport Directive must be transposed into UK legislation by 23 March 2005, and the Government has recently issued draft Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations and guidance for consultation. The consultation document is on the Department for Transport website. Comments are requested by 12 December 2004.

Q Who will they apply to?

A The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations will apply to mobile workers in operations subject to EU regulation 3820/85 on drivers’ hours. Typically this will mean that drivers of vehicles with a tachograph fitted, non-driving members of the crew and anyone else forming part of the travelling staff, including trainees and apprentices. The regulations will not, however, apply to mobile workers participating in road transport activities not covered by the drivers’ hours rules, such as van drivers and taxi drivers.

Q Will the regulations cover occasional mobile workers?

A On some occasions non-mobile workers, such as warehouse workers and mechanics, will drive vehicles within the scope of the EU drivers’ hours regulations. Such occasional mobile workers will be subject to the Working Time Regulations 1998, as amended, and not the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations. An occasional mobile worker is defined as one who does less than 11 days’ work under the drivers’ hours rules during a reference period that is shorter than 26 weeks, or less than 16 days’ work under the rules where the reference period is 26 weeks or longer.

Q What are the working time limits under the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations?

A Under the regulations, the working time of mobile workers is restricted to an average of 48 hours a week over the relevant reference period, and must not exceed 60 hours in any week. No opt-out from the average 48-hour week is permitted. The working time of a mobile worker who performs night work must not exceed 10 hours in any 24-hour period. Night work is any work performed during night time, which is defined as the period between midnight and 4am for goods vehicles, and the period between 1am and 5am for passenger vehicles. The night work limit can be exceeded only where this is permitted by a relevant agreement.

Q What counts as working time?

A Working time is defined as time from the beginning to the end of work during which a mobile worker is at their workstation exercising their activities and at the disposal of the employer. Activities include driving, unloading and loading, assisting passengers on and off the vehicle, cleaning and vehicle maintenance, and all work to ensure the safety of the vehicle, cargo or passengers. Times when the mobile worker must be at the workstation ready to take up normal work, such as during periods awaiting loading or unloading when the foreseeable duration of the period is not known in advance, are also included.
Breaks, rests and periods of availability are not included in the calculation of working time.

Q What is a period of availability?

A In general, a period of availability is waiting time whose duration a mobile worker knows about in advance. It is a period during which the mobile worker is not required to remain at their workstation, but must be available to answer any calls to start or resume driving or to carry out other work. It includes periods when a mobile worker is accompanying a vehicle being transported by train or ferry, periods spent waiting at borders and periods of waiting due to traffic prohibitions. Periods of availability also include time spent travelling in, but not driving, a moving vehicle as part of a team.

Q What is the reference period over which average weekly hours are calculated?

A Assuming this is agreed by collective or workforce agreement, the reference period will normally be a rolling 17-week one. In other cases, the default calendar option will apply. The default reference period will start at midnight on the first Monday on or after 1 April, 1 August and 1 December each year. The reference period can be extended to up to 26 weeks if there is a relevant agreement in place.

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