Working Time Directive

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    Although most workers in the UK are governed by the main Working Time Directive (WTD), those in the transport sector were not included and are instead covered by two further sets of working time regulations – the Horizontal
    Amending Directive (HAD) and the Road Transport Directive (RTD).

    The HAD was implemented in the UK in August 2003 to remove the exemptions in the main WTD on workers in the transport sector, applying the whole main directive package to non-mobile workers in the transport sector and a limited number of the main directive’s rules to mobile workers.

    The RTD, implemented in April 2005 in the UK, applies to all employed mobile workers whose work is subject to normal EU drivers’ hours rules. More
    information on the development of the working time regulations.

    How have these directives been implemented in UK law?
    The main WTD was implemented in The Working Time Regulations 1998.

    The HAD was incorporated into The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003.

    The RTD was implemented in 2005 by the The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005.

    What are the basic HAD rules?
    The HAD applies all the usual restrictions of the main WTD to non-mobile workers and provides more limited protection to mobile workers in the road transport sector, ensuring in particular that those workers not covered by the RTD will be entitled to:

    An average 48-hour working week over a reference period (usually 17 weeks)
    Four weeks’ paid annual holiday
    Health assessments for night workers
    Provision for adequate rest
    It also ensures that those subject to the RTD will be entitled to health assessments if night workers and four weeks’ paid annual leave.

    Note that under HAD, non-mobile workers are entitled to an uninterrupted period of rest of 11 hours a day while mobile workers who are not subject to EU drivers’ hours rules are entitled simply to ‘adequate rest’. Similarly, non-mobile workers are entitled to a minimum of one day off a week while mobile workers, again, are required to be given ‘adequate rest’.

    What are the basic RTD rules?
    The Road Transport Directive applies to mobile workers who are employed in work subject to EU drivers’ hours rules.

    The two most important working time limits imposed by the RTD are:

    An average of 48 hours a week over a reference period (usually 17 weeks)
    An absolute maximum of 60 hours in any one week
    The RTD also includes various breaks, daily and weekly rest requirements.

    What counts as ‘working time’ and what are ‘periods of availability’?
    Working time includes driving time and time spent on other tasks, such as vehicle loading or unloading. Breaks do not count towards working time. Neither do periods of availability (POAs), i.e. periods of time during which a driver is available for work but not actually working, as long as the driver knows the duration of the POA in advance and isn’t required to undertake any work during the period. More information on what does and doesn’t count as working time and POAs.

    What about night workers?
    Special rules apply to work at nights, which for the purposes of the RTD is taken to mean the period between midnight and 4am for goods vehicle drivers. The main one is that if night work is undertaken, daily working time must not exceed 10 hours, though the night work limit can be exceeded if a relevant agreement exists. More information about night workers.

    What’s the score for self-employed drivers under the RTD?
    Self-employed drivers are excluded from the scope of the RTD until March 2009. There are some strict rules, however, about who really qualifies as ‘self-employed’ – those who work for just one customer, for example, are unlikely to qualify. Whether self-employed drivers will be drawn into the scope of the RTD in 2009 has yet to be determined.

    Where can I find out more?
    The DfT’s Road Transport (Working Time) Guidance note outlines all the main requirements of the UK regulations and includes advice on calculating average working time over given reference periods.

    For more on the main WTD, see the BERR’s Working Time Regulations website.

    Points to ponder
    Under the HAD, non-mobile workers and mobile workers not subject to EU drivers’ hours rules may opt out of the average 48-hour limit. Under the RTD, there is NO provision for mobile workers to opt out of the average 48-hour limit OR the 60-hour maximum. However, subject to relevant agreement with the workforce, the reference period can be extended to a maximum of 26 weeks. More information on reference period calculations.

    Under the RTD, statutory annual leave, sick leave and maternity/paternity leave may NOT be used to reduce the average working time in any given reference period.

    Under the RTD, if an employee works for two or more employers, both sets of hours must be taken into account in the calculation of average working time.

    UK implementation of the RTD is currently being reviewed and the rules could soon change as a result. In particular, the UK’s interpretation of POAs, which many have already suggested is in conflict with the original intentions in the RTD, could be amended so that POAs count towards working time. This could have a radical effect on both the calculation of average working times and the number of mobile staff employers require.

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