Temporary relaxation of the retained EU drivers’ hours for drivers undertaking carriage of goods by road.
In response to pressures on local and national supply chains, the Department for Transport extended the temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales that was introduced on 12 July 2021.
The current extended relaxation applies from 12.01am on 9 August until 11.59pm on 3 October 2021.
The new extended relaxation applies from 12.01am on 4 October until 11.59pm on 31 October 2021, subject to review.
- Who the relaxation applies to
- Relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules
- Timing of the relaxation
- Using the relaxation
The temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours that applies until 11:59pm on 3 October 2021 has been extended.
The extension runs from 12.01am on 4 October until 11.59pm on 31 October 2021.
There will be different options for the relaxation from 4 October 2021.
If you have made use of the current relaxation, read the corresponding guidance and complete the forms dated 3 October 2021.
In response to requests from industry the Department for Transport (DfT) has, pursuant to Article 14(1) of the retained EU Drivers Hours Regulation, gained the approval of the Secretary of State for Transport to extend the temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales, due to the continued pressures on local and national supply chains.
The extension of the temporary relaxation of the rules reflects the exceptional circumstances arising from the cumulative impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an acute shortage of drivers of heavy goods vehicles and unusual fuel buying patterns, which adversely affect the carriage of goods by road, causing acute supply chain pressures.
Who the relaxation applies to
Anyone driving in Great Britain (GB) under the retained EU drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use this relaxation where necessary. The relaxation is not limited to specific sectors or journeys.
Drivers’ hours rules are an important road safety measure and any deviation from the rules must be a last resort when other means of mitigating a situation have failed. Therefore, the temporary relaxation to the drivers’ hours rules must only be used where necessary by drivers and transport operators.
The temporary relaxation to the drivers’ hours rules must not be used if any one of these 3 conditions is not met.
1. Evidence of detriment to wider community
Proof that there is a significant risk of a threat to human and/or animal welfare or a failure of a particular supply chain that will have a serious impact on essential public services must be provided.
Transport operators must obtain, to their satisfaction, confirmation from their customers that such a risk exists and that the customer is unlikely to be able to resolve the risk in other ways.
In the context of the transportation of food, fuel and medicines, this would include avoiding the risk of acute shortages at retail outlets that would be readily apparent to consumers.
In respect of these sectors and essential public services, detrimental factors can include losses of production that would lead to shortages. However, shortages at retail outlets are not a justification in respect of many types of goods, such as domestic building supplies, clothing or supplies to eat-in or takeaway food and drink.
2. Evidence that a relaxation would lead to a significant improvement in the situation
This includes evidence that the risk is unlikely to be resolved without using the relaxation.
3. Driver safety must not be compromised
Operators and self-employed drivers must assess the risks of using the temporary relaxation and implement suitable control measures and/or mitigations, so that the safety of the driver, other road users and those involved in loading and unloading is not compromised.
Transport managers should make sure that a risk assessment has been carried out and appropriate controls put in place. They should also continue to monitor and review where necessary as long as the relaxation is used.
It is important to consider the risk of fatigue and the effect of the relaxation on shift patterns. For example, if the relaxation related to daily driving time has been used, it should not be followed by a reduced daily rest period and should be used in the context of stable start times for shifts.
Information about fatigue and shift work is available.
It should be noted that the temporary relaxation has been brought in primarily to add reliability and resilience to duty rosters, as opposed to extra scheduling of deliveries.
It is also essential that use of the relaxation is agreed genuinely with drivers involved, including in the light of a driver’s specific circumstances.
Drivers continue to be bound by the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005. This legally limits the amount of working time (including driving) a driver can do in any given week to a maximum of 60 hours, with an average of 48 hours a week calculated over a rolling 17- to 26-week period.
If you are concerned that a driver or the vehicle operator is breaking the drivers’ hours rules, (including the terms of this temporary relaxation) or the working time regulations, this should be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
It is permitted for a driver using this relaxation to drive outside GB during the period of this relaxation. However, this relaxation only covers driving undertaken within GB.
Relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules
The retained EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows.
- the daily driving limit can be increased from 9 hours to 10 hours up to 4 times in a week (instead of the normal permitted increase to 10 hours twice a week) – all other daily driving limits remain at 9 hours
- replacement of the requirement to take at least 2 weekly rest periods including at least one regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours in a 2-week period, with an alternative permissible pattern of weekly rest periods as specified below, and an increase to the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours
Alternative pattern of weekly rest periods
The alternative pattern of weekly rest periods for drivers using the relaxation related to weekly rest periods is as follows:
- a regular weekly rest period is not required in a 2-week period provided 2 reduced weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours are taken
- following this, and by the end of the next 2 weeks, 2 regular weekly rest periods must be taken. However, any reduction in weekly rest shall 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
- in addition, any rest taken as compensation for a reduced weekly rest period shall be attached to a regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours (which can be split over 2 regular weekly rest periods)
This relaxation must not be used in combination with existing rules for international driving, which allow for 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest breaks in certain circumstances.
It is not recommended that this relaxation be used for drivers engaged partly in international journeys.
All other drivers’ hours rules remain in force unchanged, including the requirement for drivers to take a break period of at least 45 minutes after driving for 4 hours 30 minutes.
Timing of the relaxation
This temporary relaxation will apply from 12:01am on 4 October 2021 and will run until 11:59pm on 31 October 2021.
Any reduced weekly rest periods taken before 4 October 2021 must be taken into account and compensated for in the normal way before using the alternative weekly rest period permitted under this relaxation.
If any reduced weekly rest periods are taken in the 2 weeks prior to the end of the relaxation period (31 October 2021), compensatory rest must still be taken as described.
DfT reserves the right to withdraw the relaxation earlier, or extend the relaxation, if circumstances change.
Using the relaxation
The practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and employees and driver representatives.
Operators must notify the DfT if this relaxation is used by completing:
1. An initial notification of relaxation form (until 31 October 2021) and emailing a copy to [email protected].
If you have already notified DfT about the use of the relaxation in operation up to 3 October, you must still complete and submit this form if you intend to make use of the relaxation during the period up until 31 October.
2. A follow-up notification of relaxation form (until 31 October 2021), which must be emailed to [email protected] one week after the end of the period of relaxation and by 7 November 2021 at the latest.
Failure to comply with the requirement to notify the DfT would be an indication to enforcement authorities that the relaxation had been used inappropriately and follow-up investigatory action may occur.
In addition, when driving 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. This is usual practice in emergencies and is essential for enforcement purposes.
The temporary relaxation must be used only where necessary (see Conditions). Otherwise, the normal drivers’ hours rules should be followed.
DfT encourages operators facing high work demands or work absences to take urgent measures to secure drivers who have limited or no current work.
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.
As a general rule, we expect business to plan for and manage the risks of disruption to supply chains.
Please note that relaxations in relation to transport undertaken solely in the territory of Northern Ireland are a matter for the devolved authority.
All enquiries regarding interpretation of these temporary arrangements should be made to 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: all road haulage sectors in Great Britain (until 31 October 2021)
Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules: all road haulage sectors in Great Britain (until 3 October 2021)
Published 20 January 2021
Last updated 30 September 2021
The temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours has been extended until 31 October 2021. If you have made use of the relaxation that ends on 3 October 2021, you must complete a follow-up notification form by 10 October 2021.
The temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours has been extended until 3 October 2021. If you have made use of the relaxation that ends on 8 August 2021, you must complete a follow-up notification form by 15 August 2021.
New temporary relaxations take effect from 12:01am on 12 July 2021 until 11:59pm on 8 August 2021, subject to review.
The guidance on the timing of the relaxation has been updated.