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The Department for Transport has called for the temporary relaxation on EU drivers’ hours rules in response to the pressures on local and national supply chains, as a result of port congestion, unusual demand patterns and COVID-19.

This temporary relaxation will apply from 12:01am on 10 December 2020 and will run until 11:59pm on 30 December 2020, across Scotland, England and Wales.

Who is affected by the temporary relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules?

The temporary relaxation applies to anyone driving within Great Britain, under the EU drivers’ hours rules, that is involved in the transport of food and other essential goods from ports.

Drivers that transport essential goods for retail, including mixed loads, are to also come under the relaxation. As stated by the Department for Transport, this category includes journeys from:

  • distribution centre to stores (or fulfilment centre)

  • from manufacturer or supplier to distribution centre (including backhaul collections)

  • from manufacturer or supplier to store (or fulfilment centre)

  • between distribution centres and transport hub trunking

  • transport hub deliveries to stores

The relaxation does not apply to drivers not subject to tachograph controls, such as drivers who deliver direct to consumers.

How will the temporary relaxation affect EU drivers’ hours?

The temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours will mean that drivers can replace the requirement to take a full 45 hour weekly rest period in a two-week period with an alternative pattern of weekly rest periods.

From the 10thDecember, a driver can take two consecutive reduced weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours in a 4 week period, even if the week before they had already taken a reduced weekly rest.

Any reduction in weekly rest is to be compensated for in the normal way by an equivalent period of rest taken before the end of the third week, following the week in question.

The fortnightly driving limit will also be increased from 90 hours to 99 hours.

The Department for Transport has specified that the relaxation must not be used in combination with existing rules for international driving and it is not recommended for this relaxation to be used for drivers engaged partly in international journeys.

Terms of the temporary relaxation

Driver safety should not compromised, nor should they be expected to drive while tired, as employers are to remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.

The temporary relaxation is to be agreed between employers, employees and driver representatives, before implementation.

Under the EU drivers’ hours rules, drivers must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts, the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits.

The Department for Transport has also said that the temporary relaxation of the rules must only be used where necessary, otherwise, the normal drivers’ hours should be followed.

Next steps for operators

Operators must notify the Department for Transport if the temporary relaxation is used, by completing an initial notification of relaxation form and emailing a copy to RSSSFOLRCOVID19@dft.gov.uk

A completed follow-up notification of relaxation form must then be emailed to RSSSFOLRCOVID19@dft.gov.uk one week after the end of the period of relaxation.

How to find out more about the temporary relaxation of EU drivers’ hours

Detailed information on the temporary relaxation of EU drivers’ hours and how to enquire about the new arrangements can be found on the GOV website.

Alternatively, if you are a driver or client, get in touchwith one of our specialist driving consultantsand they will be able to advise and further support you on the matter.