Working Time Directive For HGV Drivers

  • Working Time
a hgv driver in his vehicle
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss HGV drivers' hours rules, how many rest periods they're entitled to, and what happens if you fail to comply.

As an employer, you're responsible for ensuring your staff receive their statutory entitlements. This means providing the correct working hours, breaks and rest periods. And is especially the case if you employ HGV drivers.

HGV drivers have a different Working Time Directive that you must comply with. Failure to do so could mean you breach the law and as a result, you could receive an unlimited fine from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

In this guide, we'll discuss HGV drivers' hours rules, how many rest periods they're entitled to, and what happens if you fail to comply.

What is the Working Time Directive?

The European Union introduced the Working Time Directive legislation in 1993. The EU rules outline how many hours an individual should work daily and weekly - to maintain their own Health & Safety. It was implemented into the UK's own Working Time Regulations (1998).

Let's explore aspects of the legislation in further detail.

Working time

The law dictates that employees and workers must not work more than 48 hours per week on average. This is worked out over a 17-week period. Remember, the average working time applies to all employees and workers, except those who:

  • Have 'opted out' of the maximum working time.
  • Do a job that is exempt from these regulations.

Remember, working time is defined as when an individual is at their employer's 'disposal'. In other words, their employer can tell them what they can or can't do during this period.

Break requirements

Workers aged 18 or over are entitled to one uninterrupted rest break of 20 minutes during their day - if they work six hours or more. But, this doesn't have to be paid - it all depends on their employment contract.

Employers are allowed to advise when the break is taken, as long as it’s taken in one go. And workers are allowed to spend their break away from their desk or working station.

Rest periods

Workers 18 or over are also entitled to two different types of rest periods. This ensures they have enough time to refresh and relax before returning to work.

They include:

  • Regular daily rest period: Workers have the right to a rest period of 11 hours between working days. For example, if they finish a shift at 11pm, they shouldn't work until 10pm the next day.
  • Weekly rest period: Workers also have the right to a weekly rest period. This should be 24 hours every single week, or 48 hours every two weeks.

What are the Working Time Directive rules for HGV drivers?

The Working Time Directive rules for HGV drivers are EU drivers' hours rules. Despite Brexit, HGV drivers, as well as drivers of large goods, vehicles, and passenger-carrying vehicles, must comply with EU rules if they fit the criteria.

Let's discuss these rules in further detail:

Drivers hours and working time rules

The EU drivers hours rules state that drivers can work up to nine hours per day, but this can be extended to ten hours twice a week. This amounts to maximum driving hours of 56 hours a week, and 90 hours in two consecutive weeks.

EU rules also state that drivers must record all their driving on a tachograph, or a HGV drivers' hours calculator. This is a device that records driving hours and breaks to prevent driver fatigue.

Break requirements

Drivers are also entitled to break, or breaks of at least 45 minutes after four-and-a-half-hour driving period. They can choose to split breaks into one break period of 15 minutes, and another of 30 minutes. Here is a timeframe for HGV working time breaks:

  • 6 working hours: 15-minute break.
  • 6-9 working hours: 30-minute break.
  • 9 working hours: 45-minute break.

Driving hour break rules are stricter than working time break rules because they carry a greater leeway for risks and accidents.

Rest periods

HGV drivers need to take a daily rest period of 11 hours. And have a full rest period of 45 hours each week. This can be reduced to 24 hours every other week.

EU rules also state that over a four-week period, two of the weekly rest periods must last at least 45 hours.

Can HGV drivers have a split daily rest period?

Yes, many drivers choose to split their daily rest period. This can be broken down into two periods – a minimum of three and nine hours of daily rest. But this can only be done three times a week; and it’ll be classed as a reduced daily rest period.

Who do EU drivers' hours rules apply to?

EU drivers hours rules apply to persons who fit the criteria. If your driver operates a vehicle or vehicle combination that has a:

  • A maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes, and;
  • They drive in the UK, or to, from or through an EU country - the rules apply.

So, these rules will apply to most HGV and lorry drivers in the UK.

How many 15-hour shifts can a HGV driver do?

HGV drivers must rest for at least nine hours within a 24-hour period. However, this can only be done up to three times a week.

So, drivers can technically work three 15-hours shifts within the same week. This is based over a two week period.

What are the rules for HGV night drivers?

For HGV night drivers, certain rules apply. The night-time period occurs between the hours of midnight and 4am, so any driver working during this time has their hours limited. HGV drivers completing night work have a ten-hour working limit within each 24 hour period.

But, if there is a collective or workforce agreement in place between a trade union and the employer - these hours might be extended.

Consequences of not complying to driving laws

Employers must ensure their drivers comply with driving and working hours regulations. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can issue penalties for breaching the rules. For example:

  • Verbal warnings: These are given for smaller offences caused accidentally or because of inexperience.
  • Fines and points to license's: These are given based on the seriousness of the offence.
  • Office rectification notices: These are offences which don’t class as road safety risks. But drivers (or their employers) have 21 days to rectify the problem.
  • Prohibition notices: These are given for serious or reckless offences. Drivers should cease this type of misconduct immediately and follow regulations.

HGV drivers can be classed as vulnerable and lone employees, as they spend long hours working alone. So, you must protect their health, safety, and wellbeing by providing proper breaks and rest periods.

Get expert advice on the working time directive for HGV drivers from Peninsula

Ensure you and your transport managers know the rules surrounding the HGV Working Time Directive. This includes providing drivers with the correct daily rest periods, as well as encouraging them to take a break after 4.5 hours of driving.

Failure to comply with HGV driver hours could have serious consequences for your workplace. For instance, the HSE could investigate your business. Consequently, you might receive an unlimited fine, and even damages to your reputation.

Peninsula offers expert advice on the HGV driving hours, including how to provide the correct breaks and driving time. Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more about the rules around HGV driver work? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.



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