The DfT has introduced a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules.

Approval for the announcement has been given by the secretary of state for transport.

Therefore, the new rules will apply to regulations in England, Scotland and Wales.

Specifically, the temporary relaxation reflects the situation arsing from the current impacts of Covid-19.

In other words, Omicron has meant increased absence rates in the road transport sector, leading to supply issues. 

The relaxation applies to anyone driving in Great Britain under the retained EU drivers’ hours rules.

These drivers are those involved in carrying goods by road and the relaxation can be used wherever necessary.

Furthermore, the relaxation is not specific to different sectors or journeys.

Importantly, there are three conditions where the temporary relaxation must not be used.

Firstly, where there is evidence of detriment to the wider community.

For example, if there is proof of a risk of a threat to human or animal welfare from the relaxation.

The second condition is if there is evidence a relaxation would lead to an improvement in the situation.

This condition includes evidence that the risk is unlikely to be resolved without the relaxation. 

Finally, the third condition covers road safety.

Specifically, the temporary relaxation should not be introduced if driver safety is compromised.

For example, the risks of the relaxation should be assessed by operators and self-employed drivers.

Transport managers should make sure that a risk assessment has been carried out and appropriate controls put in place.

In addition, they should continue to monitor and review where necessary as long as the relaxation is used.

DfT has stated the retained EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

Either

  • 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

OR

  • 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

The relaxation took effect at 12:01am this morning and will run until 11:59pm on 10 February 2022, subject to review.

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