With more and more operators reporting that Vosa has recently intensified its checks on Working Time during inspections, Karen Crispe, Tachodisc MD, reviews here why this could be unknowingly catching some companies out.
There have always been misconceptions in the road transport industry surrounding Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations, notably about the rules on record keeping.
In fact, there are many operators who still believe that if they adhere to drivers’ hours law or if they do not average more than 48 hours working time per week, they do not need to keep working time records – this is simply not the case.
Some also wrongly think that Working Time is not enforced, when in fact Vosa will systematically check to ensure companies have correctly and legibly recorded Working Time and will want to see evidence that records have been kept for two years.
If companies have inadvertently not kept records, a prosecutors’ approach will be that “if it is not recorded, it has not been done”, which could result in heavy fines or worse.
So to be clear, what are the rules with Working Time?
- This directive applies to all mobile workers in scope of EC regulation 561/2006 and includes all others who form part of the travelling staff. Any work done for any other transport employer also counts towards working time. There is no opt out available. They do not replace EC drivers’ hours rules.
- The number of hours worked must not exceed 48 hours averaged out over a reference period.
- The maximum number of hours that can be worked in any one week is 60 hours.
- The activities that are included in the Working Time calculations are driving and other work (as defined in Article 3(a) of Directive 2002/15/EC). Periods of availability and breaks are excluded from the calculations.
- A period of availability is waiting time, the duration of which is known about in advance. During this time the driver has to be available for work.
- Under this regulation the worker cannot work for more than 6 hours without a break. If working between 6 and 9 hours, 30 minutes of break must be taken. If working more than 9 hours, 45 minutes must be taken. A break can be split but has to be a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Any work carried out during midnight and 4am (carriage of goods) or 1am and 5am (passenger operations) constitutes night time working. The night time working limit is 10 hours in any 24 hour period unless a collective or workforce agreement allows otherwise.
- A fixed reference period starts the first Monday after 1st April, 1st August and the 1st December each year. This will be 17 or 18 weeks depending on the calendar, however, the reference period can be extended up to 26 weeks with a collective or workforce agreement. A rolling reference period can be implemented without an agreement.
- Statutory absence has to be included in the working time calculations, 8 hours per day or 48 hours for any full week. Non-statutory absence will be entered as zero and can be used to reduce the weekly average.
- Records must be kept for two years after the current reference period. Tachograph records may also be used to record Working Time and it is always important that you select the correct mode to record activities accurately. In some circumstances it may be necessary to keep additional records for example when working in a warehouse etc. If tachographs are not used to record Working Time another system must be implemented by the employer to ensure accurate records are available on request.