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28 September 2007
RHA and FTA unite in Treasury approach to highlight plight of UK hauliers
27 September 2007
Ten ways to better spend the 2p fuel duty increase
26 September 2007
Transport Minister for FTA Dinner
25 September 2007
2p or not 2p Fuel duty increase - A cost to all: FTA

Working Time / Road Transport Directive:

Sweating Your Assets

So what flexibilities are available to you under this legislation? You can negotiate collective or workforce agreements with your staff with respect to night working and reference periods. There is flexibility available via the interpretation of Periods of Availability (PoAs). There is a definition of an occasional driver, who is exempt from this particular piece of legislation (falling under the working time legislation that applies to general workers). And you are also allowed to use additional holiday allowance, over and above the statutory minimum, to bring down average working time.

Nights: In your analysis of hours, pay particular attention to those that will be counted as night drivers under this legislation (any truck driver who does any work between the hours of midnight and 4am - consider late finishers and early starters here, as well as those you would think of as night drivers). These drivers are subject to a limit of 10 hours in a 24-hour period unless you have a relevant agreement. Make sure that you understand what 10 hours in 24 means - if you don't, look at the diagram in the government's guidance. A relevant agreement allows drivers to exceed this 10-hour limit. Remember that night drivers are still subject to the 48-hour average and 60-hour maximum, whatever you negotiate with your workforce under your agreement. Remember also,
when going through the process of getting your workforce to elect representatives, that candidates for election must be relevant members of the workforce or in the case of a group of workers they must be members of the group.

Reference periods : As well as looking at the detail of what your drivers do, look at their driving year as a whole: what percentage of their hours occurs in which weeks and months of the year - in other words, how seasonal is your business. The default periods for calculating the 48-hour average, are set periods of 17/18 weeks. If the seasonality of your business means that these are not appropriate, you can elect to use different set periods including longer ones (up to 26 weeks), provided that you have a collective or workforce agreement. An agreement can apply to the whole workforce or to a group of workers. There is also provision for you to use rolling reference periods if you wish.

Periods of Availability : A PoA is waiting time where the period and the foreseeable duration are known about by the worker in advance - either before departure or just before the start of the period in question. Mobile workers do not need to be formally notified about a period of availability and its duration in advance - it is enough that they know about it (and the foreseeable duration), in advance. Like breaks and rest periods, a PoA can be taken at the workstation (ie in the cab), providing the worker has a reasonable amount of freedom (eg he can relax and read). Where the mobile worker knows about a delay in advance, but it is deemed prudent that the driver should remain in the cab
for reasons of security or safety, this should not (in itself), disqualify this delay being recorded as a period of availability - typical examples might include waiting at a site that is unsafe for pedestrians
or staying in a vehicle carrying high value goods or cash. You will see that the key to getting the best out of this particular interpretation is communication with the driver.

PoAs also include time spent sitting next to the driver while the vehicle is in motion, provided that no other work such as navigation is carried out.

The guidance provides for a change in use of the modes on tachographs to facilitate recording PoAs - you are not obliged to use the tachograph for this purpose, and its use does have both pros and cons. If you do intend to use tachographs as working time records, remember that they need to be kept for over 2 years (not one year).

Occasional mobile workers : It is possible that non-mobile workers (for example warehouse workers, mechanics, drivers of light vans) will drive vehicles within scope of EU drivers' hours regulations on
an occasional basis. Any worker who only occasionally works within the scope of the EU drivers' hours rules will be subject to the Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended), rather than these Regulations. As now, limits under the EU drivers' hours rules will still apply to occasional drivers. Individuals are occasional mobile workers if they:

•  work fewer than 11 days within scope of EU Driver's hours rules in a reference period that is shorter than 26 weeks

•  work fewer than 16 days within scope of EU Driver's hours rules in a reference period that is 26 weeks or longer.

Contractual holiday : Many companies give contractual leave that is over and above the minimum 4 weeks. For example if you give 4 weeks plus bank holidays, your employee has eight days of contractual leave. Generally speaking, you cannot use annual/sick leave in order to reduce the average working time performed during the reference period, and the guidance provides methodology for these to be neutral in your calculations. However, if you do give over and above the statutory minimum of annual leave, any additional annual leave, over and above the 4-week entitlement, can be used bring down the average.

Updated 31 October 2005
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