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Drivers working time directive made simple

Driver left dazed and confused by the working time directive

I was running a Driver CPC course last weekend on the EU drivers’ hours and working time directive regulations, when one of the drivers questioned the working time regulations and it made me think.

Just how many other drivers out there think the same as he did?


Before I explain the situation I just want to make things clear everyone refers to these regulations as “The Working Time Directive” however this is not actually correct. The Working time directive applies to all workers was created to protect workers however you can choose to opt out. Professional Drivers however have to comply with “The Road Transport Directive” and you can not choose to opt out of this. So when we talk about the Working Time Directive with drivers what we actually mean is the Road Transport Directive.


Back to the story

Basically he was a self employed driver and under the impression that the working time directive rules did not apply to him. In fact he was adamant that he did not need to comply with the working time directive at all.

There are probably thousands of self employed drivers and transport managers out there who think exactly the same and they would have been right before the 1st of December 2011. After that date all self employed drivers were required to comply with the working time directive in exactly the same way as an employed driver.

In addition to that many of the self employed drivers do all of their paperwork on the weekend which is an interruption of their weekly rest. Paperwork is just one of the most common things that owner drivers are doing during the weekly rest period which could be considered other work. Things like washing or repairing the truck, planning loads and booking jobs would also be considered by VOSA and the Traffic Commissioner as other work.

These are not things that I mentioned really in the original Drivers’ Hours Handbook because they have been in force for quite some time now however it is clear that many drivers are still unaware of them so the updated version of the Handbook now covers this.


The working time directive for drivers

So now that we have established that you must comply with the working time directive here it is explained:

How many hours can you work in one week?

You can not exceed 60 hours within any fixed week.

What is the maximum weekly average over a working time directive period?

You can use a 17 week or a 26 week reference period for calculating your weekly average. Whichever you choose you must stick to for at least that period and you must average no more than 48 hours per week.

What are the daily driving limits?

This is where things get very confusing for most drivers because you are actually applying two different laws to your working day and either on could trigger the need for a break first.

The 6 Hour Rule

So you can’t  work more than 6 accumulative hours without a break. Check out my post which talks specifically about the 6 hour rule.

Note: As defined by the Drivers hour’s laws, a break must be at least 15 minutes in length in order to qualify as a break.

If you will be working between 6 – 9 hours, then you must accumulate 30 minutes of break before going over 6 hours of working time. (You can do this by taking 2 breaks of at least 15 minutes or a full 30 minute break after no later than 6 hours of work and drive combined).

If you continue to work up until you accumulate 9 hours of WTD then you must take a further 15 minute break. (You can take this break at any time throughout the day once your duty has begun, and it may also be included on the end of another break, but it must be no later than after 9 hours of total WTD).

Remember that your required 45 minute break to comply with driver’s hour’s law can be used to satisfy the working time directive too as long as it is taken at the right time.

 There are some working examples listed on the working time directive page which should help explain this better.

This does take some time to get your head around so please feel free to call me on (0191) 491 5032 or drop me an email and I will get back to you as quickly as I can