Drivers Hours relaxation to apply to all road haulage operations


In response to unprecedented pressures on local and national supply chains, the Department for Transport has pursuant to Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales. It has also introduced a temporary and limited urgent relaxation of the enforcement of GB drivers’ hours rules in England, Scotland and Wales.

A specific review of the continuation of the relaxations past Sunday 5 April 2020 has been conducted and a decision has been made to continue with the relaxations. In addition, due to stakeholder feedback, a further relaxation has been included, allowing drivers to use the ferry/train derogation whilst taking a reduced daily rest of 9 hours.

The department (supported by the Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Association and UNITE the Union) would like to remind all transport operators and the customers who influence their practices that:

  • the standard drivers’ hours rules are important safety-related rules. They are in place to improve road safety and the working conditions of drivers and reduce the risk of drivers being involved in fatigue-related accidents
  • therefore, these temporary relaxations should only be used where absolutely necessary. Operators should, wherever possible, attempt to recruit additional drivers from other sectors who are out of work or facing being furloughed
  • the temporary relaxations are designed to support the transport of vital goods, including the supply chains related to medicines, health, fuel, food and other necessities
  • the use of the relaxations to 21 April remains under review and no decision has been made about extending them beyond this date. Operators should use this period to increase resilience
  • if any drivers or operators consider that they are being asked to use the relaxation without correct justification then they can email their concerns to:

Retrospective checking of the use of these relaxations will take place as necessary including by DVSA.

Relaxation of EU drivers’ hours rules

The EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

a) Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours

b) Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours

c) Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively

d) Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six 24 hours periods, for after seven 24 hours period, although 2 regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight

e) The requirements for daily breaks of 45 minutes after 4.5 hours driving replaced with a break of 45 minutes after 5.5 hours of driving

f) Drivers using the relaxation at ‘b’, reducing their daily rest from 11 hours to 9, can still use the derogation allowing them to interrupt their daily rest, by up to one hour, to embark and disembark from a train or a ferry

Drivers must not use relaxation ‘a’ and ‘d’ at the same time. This is to ensure drivers can get adequate rest.

Relaxation of GB drivers’ hours rules

The GB drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

a) Replacement of the GB duty time limit of 11 hours with 12 hours

b) Replacement of the GB daily driving time limit of 10 hours with 11 hours

Drivers can only take advantage of this temporary relaxation 5 days in any 7-day period and must take a rest period of 24 hours within the same 7-day period when taking advantage of this relaxation.

Timing of the relaxations

The further relaxation, ‘f’, will apply from 00:01 on Wednesday 8 April 2020 and will run until 23:59 on Tuesday 21 April 2020. The existing relaxations, ‘a’ to ‘e’, will continue to apply as previously stated, from 00:01 on Monday 23 March 2020 until 23.59 Tuesday 21 April 2020. This was recently reviewed and a decision was made to continue the relaxation. However, this will be kept under review and the department reserves the right to withdraw the relaxations or extend the relaxations if circumstances change.

Who can use the relaxation

Anyone driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules or the GB drivers’ hours rules and undertaking carriage of goods by road can use the relevant relaxation where necessary. The relaxations are not limited to specific sectors or journeys.

Interaction with other relaxations

There is currently one other active relaxation for retailers for certain journeys. This remains active during this relaxation and will expire at the date specified in the notice found here:

When this sector-specific relaxation is no longer active, the all sectors relaxation will be available to drivers from this sector if necessary.

Using the relaxation

The department wishes to make clear that driver safety must not be compromised. Drivers should not be expected to drive whilst tired - employers remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees and other road users.

The practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and employees and/or driver representatives.

When driving under the 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, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.

When driving under the GB drivers’ hours rules, drivers must note on their record sheet (or tachograph charts or printouts, if applicable) the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.

The temporary relaxation of the rules described above reflects the exceptional circumstances stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. It must be used only where necessary, otherwise the normal drivers’ hours should be followed. The department encourages operators facing high work demands or work absences to take urgent measures to secure drivers who have limited or no current work. It will be working to encourage and facilitate the movement of drivers into priority areas.

The department wishes to emphasise that, as a general rule, we expect business to plan for and manage the risks of disruption to supply chains.

All enquiries regarding interpretation of these temporary arrangements should, in the first instance, be made to:

We will keep these temporary arrangements under review.

7 April 2020, Department for Transport