Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales for drivers involved in the international carriage of goods by road and between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- Timing of the relaxation
- Scope of the relaxation
- Details of the relaxation
- Interaction with other relaxations
- Using the relaxation
In response to the exceptional pressures on the freight industry, the Department for Transport (DfT) has introduced a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales for drivers involved in the international carriage of goods by road and between Great Britain (GB) and Northern Ireland (NI).
This relaxation reflects the exceptional circumstances stemming from and envisaged in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including the new strain, and the end of the EU transition period.
There have been COVID-19 tests and restrictions of international routes to outbound accompanied UK freight.
There has been, and there are risks of, congestion in and around ports, affecting international supply chains.
Timing of the relaxation
The relaxation of the rules applies from 12:01am on 22 January 2021 until 11:59pm on 31 March 2021.
There are no plans to extend the relaxation after 31 March 2021. However, this is kept under review, and the DfT reserves the right to withdraw or amend the relaxation if circumstances change.
Scope of the relaxation
Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules involved in the international carriage of goods by road or the carriage of goods between GB and NI.
It should be used when there are significant unanticipated or substantial delays, related to border crossings and checks related to cross-Irish Sea transports.
This relaxation does not apply to drivers in scope of the GB drivers’ hours rules and so not subject to tachograph controls.
It’s important to remember that the relaxation should only be used where necessary, otherwise the normal drivers’ hours rules are to be followed.
Details of the relaxation
The EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:
a) Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours.
b) Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours, together with a relaxation on the use of the ferry/train derogation to allow its use when on a reduced daily rest of 9 hours (instead of when on a regular rest period of 11 hours):
- in addition, for the ferry/train derogation, the maximum number of the interruptions to a regular daily rest period, a reduced daily rest period, or a reduced weekly rest period is increased from 2 to 4
- the total accumulated duration of the interruptions is increased from one hour to 3 hours
c) Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively.
d) Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after 6 24-hour periods, for after 7 24-hour periods, although 2 regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight.
Drivers’ must not use relaxation ‘a’ and ‘d’ at the same time. This is to ensure drivers can get adequate rest.
e) In addition, drivers who are driving only in Kent on journeys out of the UK via the Channel Tunnel or Dover, are permitted to break 45-minute rest breaks into up to 3 blocks of 15 minutes each, which together are at least 45 minutes (within a 4.5 hours period). This is designed for use when drivers are stuck in the queuing system in Kent.
Interaction with other relaxations
A driver should not be using more than one relaxation at the same time as another. This is to protect driver welfare.
Using the relaxation
Driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive while tired – employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.
The practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and employees and driver representatives.
When driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules, drivers must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they’re exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is essential for enforcement purposes.
This temporary relaxation of the rules reflects the exceptional circumstances associated with international and Great Britain-Northern Ireland road transport.
The DfT encourages operators facing high work demands or work absences to take urgent measures to secure drivers who have limited or no current work.
As a general rule, we expect business to plan for and manage the risks of disruption to supply chains.
All enquiries regarding interpretation of these temporary arrangements should be made to the DfT using the following contact details:
- during office hours (9am to 5pm), email [email protected]
- out of hours, phone the DfT Duty Office on 020 7944 5999
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules: international and Great Britain to Northern Ireland carriage of goods
Published 20 January 2021
Last updated 19 March 2021
The guidance on the timing of the relaxation has been updated.