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The law on drivers’ hours depends on the country the vehicle is driven and operated in. There are domestic UK laws, European Union (EU) laws and rules for non EU regions governed by the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR). The employer is responsible for making sure their drivers and mobile workers do not exceed the legal working time and must keep working time records for at least two years. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), previously VOSA has the power to enforce the regulations and can issue improvement or prohibition notices to a vehicle operator.

The domestic and international legislation on drivers’ hours is complicated and could have serious repercussions on your business and livelihood. If you have any queries contact our specialist solicitors for advice and guidance.

EU & AETR Laws on Driver’s Hours

The EU law on drivers’ work hours was laid out in EU Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and Directive 2002/15/EC and were implemented in the UK by the 2005 Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations. The rules on driver hours in AETR countries is now the same as that in the EU.

The EU rules define driving time as the duration of driving activity recorded by either a recording device or manually. If a driver only spends a short time of his working day within the EU he must comply with the rules on drivers’ hours, breaks and weekly rest for the that day. All driving done under EU law must be recorded on a tachograph device, see our page for more information on these.

EU law on driver hours state:

• A maximum of 9 hours a day can be spent driving which can be extended to 10 hours no more than twice a week
• A maximum of 56 hours a week can be spent driving
• Over any two consecutive weeks a maximum of 90 hours can be spent driving

EU Rules on HGV & PSV Driver Breaks

The EU rules define a break as any period when the driver does not carry out any work, but is used solely for recuperation.

A break of at least 45 minutes must be taken by a driver after driving for no more than 4.5 hours, unless he takes a rest period. A break may be taken in a moving vehicle as long as no work is being done, which applies to multi-manned vehicles. A full 45 minute break can be replaced by one of at least 15 minutes followed separately by a break of at least 30 minutes afterwards.

EU Rules on HGV & PSV Daily Driving Limit

If you operate a HGV or PSV within the European Union the rules in the 2005 Working Time Act also apply to you. The provisions of the regulations state:

• A worker’s weekly working time must not exceed an average of 48 hours per week with a maximum of 60 hours work being performed in a single week
• If a worker undertakes night work their working time should not exceed 10 hours within a 24 hour period. For goods vehicles night time is defined as the period between 00:00 and 04:00 and between 01:00 and 05:00 for passenger vehicles. The 10 hour limit may be exceeded if a collective workforce agreement is in place
• There are a number of provisions for workers legal entitlement to breaks:

1. Mobile workers may not work longer than 6 consecutive hours without taking a break
2. If the period of work is between 6 and 9 hours long the working time must be interrupted by a break of at least 30 minutes long
3. If the period of work is over 9 hours the working time must be interrupted by a break or breaks of a least 45 minutes total
4. All breaks taken should be at least 15 minutes long

• Records either from a tachograph or manually recorded must be kept for two years after the period of work.

Under the 2005 legislation an occasional mobile worker is exempt from the laws on drivers’ hours when:

• They work 10 days or less within a 26 week period
• They work 15 days or less over a period above 26 weeks.

In addition to the 2005 Regulations UK HGV and PSV operators’ active in the EU are also subject to two provisions from the 1998 Working Time Regulations:

• Workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave
• Employers are responsible for health checks for night workers

UK Domestic Laws on Drivers’ Hours

The UK’s domestic rules on driver’s hours are governed by two pieces of legislation; the 1998 Working Time Regulations and Transport Act 1968 and are enforced by the DVSA. Below are the main points from each of the legislation relating to drivers’ hours.

The Transport Act 1968

The Transport Act 1968 defines driving as being at the controls of a vehicle with its engine on either moving or stationary. Here are the main points relating to HGV and PSV drivers’ hours and breaks:

• The daily driving limit for a HGV or PSV driver is a maximum of 10 hours
• HGV drivers are limited to a daily duty time of 11 hours
• A driver who does not drive more than 4 hours each day is exempt from the duty limit
• A PSV driver may not drive for more than 7 hours 45 minutes within an 8.5 hour period
• A PSV driver after 5.5 hours of driving should take a break of at least 30 minutes
• PSV drivers must not work more than 16 hours within a working day
• A PSV driver must take continuous rest of 10 hours between two consecutive working day which can be reduced to 8.5 hours for a maximum of three times a week

There are a number of exceptions to the provisions in the 1968 Act:

• Drivers of vehicles used by the security forces, the police or fire service
• Drivers who only drive off the public road system
• Non-commercial drivers
• Drivers who do not drive for more than 4 hours a day in a week
• Exemptions are allowed for any time spent dealing with an emergency

For more information see the government’s documentation on the Transport Act 1968 or contact one of our specialist HGV and PSV solicitors for advice and guidance.

The Working Time Regulations 1998

The 1998 Working Time Regulations implement European Working Time EU Directive 2002/15/EC into UK law.

The domestic UK provisions for driver’s hours are governed by the 1998 Act which state:

• The weekly working time must not exceed an average of 48 hours per week. Employees may opt out of this provision
• Employees must have 5.6 weeks entitled paid annual leave
• Health checks must be made for night workers
• Employees are entitled to adequate rest periods

Adequate rest should be provided to workers which are sufficiently long and continuous so that the worker does not harm themselves or other workers and do not damage their short term, or long term health.

The working time regulations above do not apply to self-employed workers or occasional mobile workers. The 1998 legislation defines a self-employed worker as a person running their own business and is free to work with different clients and customers. For more information see the government’s documentation on the 1998 Working Time Regulations or contact one of our specialist solicitors.

The driver and vehicle operator are responsible for recording their working time. This should be done using a digital tachograph in all vehicles registered after 1 May 2006, otherwise by using an analogue device. The driver will also have to keep manual records which they must hand to the vehicle operator. The operator must keep the working time records for two years after the period.

UK Domestic Driver Hours’ Penalties

The penalties for driver’s hours offences can be severe with fines of up to £5,000 and imprisonment, which could have a serious impact on your livelihood. The maximum penalties are set out in the Transports Act 1968 as:

Failure to observe driving time, break or rest period rules.
Fine of up to £2,500

Failure to make or keep records under the GB domestic rules
Fine of up to £2,500

Failure to install a tachograph.
Fine of up to £5,000

Failure to use a tachograph.
Fine of up to £5,000

Failure to hand over records relating to recording equipment as requested by an enforcement Officer.
Fine of up to £5,000

False entry or alteration of a record with the intent to deceive.
Fine of £5,000 on summary conviction, two years’ imprisonment on indictment.

Altering or forging the seal on a tachograph with the intent to deceive.
Fine of £5,000 on summary conviction, two years’ imprisonment on indictment.

Failure to take all reasonable steps to ensure contractually agreed transport time schedules respect the EU rules.
Fine of up to £2,500

The laws regarding drivers’ hours are complicated with both domestic and EU legislation applying to both drivers and operators who have a responsibility to follow the rules which apply to their route and operation. Committing a driver hours offence can have serious consequences on your livelihood or business so contact an expert motoring solicitor for advice and guidance.