Monday, 7 March 2016

Weekend rest situation still unclear as DVSA issues new hours advice . . .


Weekend rest situation still unclear as DVSA issues new hours advice

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New advice from DVSA on EU drivers’ hours has been issued for goods vehicles; and it goes only a little way towards clarifying recent confusion over what drivers can and cannot do during weekly rest periods.

Last summer, France and Belgium both announced that drivers could not spend the required 45-hour weekly rest in the cabs of their trucks. Drivers, employers and even freight consignors could face considerable penalties for breaking this rule. Germany recently began to follow suit, saying that parking for 45 hours and spending the rest period in the vehicle did not count as a weekly rest.

It is still permissible to take the shortened 24-hour weekly rest in the vehicle in all three countries, but, as before, the rest time lost has to be compensated for by an equivalent continuous period of rest taken before the end of the third week following the week in question.

This extended period must be attached to and in addition to a rest period of at least nine hours. At least one full weekly rest must be taken in every two ‘fixed’ weeks.

Regarding where the rest is taken, the new DVSA guidance for the UK states only that the reduced rest may be taken in the vehicle, providing it is suitably equipped with a bunk or other facility designed primarily for sleeping on.

Sleeping across the seats is not acceptable, and if the vehicle does not have suitable facilities then other arrangements such as hotel accommodation should be made. The DVSA advice, which is not in itself “a complete or authoritative statement of the law”, says nothing about taking a full weekly rest in the vehicle, so while this is not specifically permitted, it is not explicitly outlawed in the UK either.

Tightening of weekend rest enforcement on the continent is understood to have been driven by increasing concerns about the ‘outbasing’ of low-wage Eastern European drivers in high-cost Western European countries, where it is regarded as a form of ‘dumping’.

The updated DVSA guidance also contains explicit advice about Driver CPC training during the weekly rest. Driver CPC training undertaken at the request of the driver’s employer counts as ‘work’ and cannot be undertaken during a rest period, but training organised by the driver on his own initiative can.

The full guidance can be found here.

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