UK relaxes drivers’ hours rules for those supporting Operation London Bridge

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The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has introduced a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales. The relaxation applies only to those drivers involved in the delivery of Operation London Bridge during the National Mourning period.

UK relaxes drivers’ hours rules for those supporting Operation London Bridge

Describing the need for the relaxation, the DfT said it “reflects the urgent case resulting from the demise of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the need for substantial amounts of goods and numbers of personnel to be moved at short notice to support the main official ceremonial events taking place across Great Britain.”

The DfT explains that this concerns Her Majesty’s State Funeral among other things.

The relaxation of the rules applies from 4pm on 9 September 2022 until 11:59pm on 22 September 2022. The change applies to anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules involved in the delivery of Operation London Bridge during the period of National Mourning.

However, the relaxation does not apply to drivers in scope of the GB domestic drivers’ hours rules and therefore is not subject to tachograph controls.

According to the UK Government website, the retained EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

  1. Replacement of the normally permitted increase to daily driving limits from 9 to 10 hours up to twice in a week with one of 11 hours up to twice in a week. Practically, this means that a driver can drive for up to 11 hours on no more than 2 days in a single week, whilst all other daily driving limits remain at 9 hours.
  2. Replacement of the requirement to take at least 2 weekly rest periods including 1 regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours in a 2-week period, with an alternative pattern of weekly rest periods as specified below, and an increase to the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours.

In addition, the alternative pattern of weekly rest periods for drivers using the relaxation related to weekly rest periods is:

  • 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, 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).

The DfT adds that this relaxation must not be used in combination with existing rules for international driving, which allow for 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods in certain circumstances. Moreover, it is not recommended that this relaxation be used for drivers engaged partly in international journeys.

It is also stressed that the practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and employees and driver representatives.

  1. Operators must notify the DfT if this relaxation is used by completing an initial notification of relaxation form and emailing a copy to FOLRnotification@dft.gov.uk
  2. A completed follow-up notification of relaxation form must then be emailed to FOLRnotification@dft.gov.uk by 29 September 2022 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.

On top of this, the DfT writes that when driving under the retained 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 only be used where necessary (see advice under Scope of the relaxation). Otherwise the normal drivers’ hours rules should be followed.

The full details concerning the relaxation can be found here.

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