HGV working hours

09 July 2019

If you employ drivers of heavy good vehicles, you need to make sure you follow domestic and international work rules.

Locations, speeds, and hours – they bring unique regulations and compliance for you and your drivers. There are even different rules depending on whether the driver is carrying goods or passengers.

For HGV and lorry drivers, hours scheduled for working can change from day to day.

The HGV drivers’ hours and working time directive outlines how to care for your drivers whilst they’re out on the road.

Without a clear understanding, you could risk accidents and injuries to your workers – with possible costly negligence claims and hearings to follow.

Discover how many hours can an HGV driver work a day. And what entitlements and laws you need to recognise whilst they’re out on the road.

HGV drivers’ hours and working time directive

The directive states rules all HGV drivers (and their employers) must adhere to; like legal entitlements for breaks and working hours.

When an HGV driver carries out activities linked to transport, it counts towards their working hours.

These activities can include things drivers need to do before and after driving. For example:

  • Driving the vehicle.
  • Onloading and offloading the vehicle.
  • Complying to the correct work practice and training.
  • Maintaining the vehicle.
  • Making sure goods are contained appropriately.
  • Keeping all legal documentation updated.
  • Tracking the time spent between shifts.

The main part is the driving – which is recorded through a tachograph. It tracks the time for driving, resting, and availability. This data allows you to see if your drivers have complied with legal rules as well as their job tasks.

You should also remember, commute time isn’t included in working hours (along with daily rest periods and breaks).

What are HGV driving and working hour laws?

There are three rules which apply to HGV and lorry drivers. Regulations are categorised under EU, AETR, and GB domestic rules. The rules will apply to your drivers depending on:

  • What type of vehicle they drive.
  • What country they are driving in.

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 licences: 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.

Driving hours and breaks

The most HGV drivers can drive for is 9 hours per day.

The 9-hour shift can be extended to 10 hours, but only twice a week. If an employer wants to extend the shift to 10 hours, they must get consent from their drivers – through a workforce agreement.

How long are breaks and daily rest periods for HGV drivers during driving hours?

After every 4.5 hours of driving, drivers must take a 45-minute break. HGV breaks shouldn’t be less than 15 minutes, or else it won’t count.

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

Splitting breaks

You can split breaks for HGV drivers. Splitting them up can provide support through longer and more difficult shifts.

HGV drivers need to take a daily rest period of 11 hours. This can be broken down into two periods – a minimum of three and nine hours of daily rest.

The daily rest period can be shortened to 9 hours. But you can only do this 3 times a week; and it’ll be classed as a reduced daily rest period.

You need comply with UK and EU break requirements. And ensure your employees understand the break rules – whenever and wherever they may be driving to.

Working hours and breaks

For HGV drivers, the maximum working hours per week must not go over 56 hours.

This is normally calculated over a rolling 17-week period. This can be extended to 26 weeks (if the drivers agree to it via a collective or workforce agreement).

Despite this, the total work hours for the week can’t go over 60 hours. But it’ll depend on whether the average 56 hours hasn’t been surpassed.

For night shifts, the maximum weekly working hours for HGV drivers is 10 hours. Again, this can be increased through mutual agreement.

How long are breaks and daily rests for HGV drivers during working time?

When drivers complete other HGV tasks outside of driving, it’s important to follow the EU Driver’s break requirements.

HGV working time directive 6-hour rule advises against working for more than 6 hours without a break.

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.

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

HGV drivers must rest for at least nine hours within a 24-hour period. They can only work like this 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.

How to manage your drivers

As an employer, you will have your own work conduct and behaviour rules for your drivers. But remember, you have a legal duty of care for them, under the Employment Rights Act (1996).

HGV drivers can be classed as vulnerable and lone employees, as they spend long hours working alone. You must protect their health, safety, and welfare – exactly like you would do for an onsite employee.

When managing your drivers, you should:

  • Keep their working hour records for at least one year.
  • Ensure they’re fully trained and comply with the rules.
  • Check their data and records.
  • Provide an appropriate amount of work time to follow rules.
  • Monitor their work hours.

The DVSA can issue further penalties if drivers break working time rules or repeat offences.

Get expert guidance on HGV working hours with Peninsula

Driving hours and break rules can involve complex legislation; but it’s essential to get it right.

Without compliance, your drivers could face serious accidents on the road. And that could lead to negligence claims and tribunal hearings; putting your business at risk.

Peninsula offers you expert employment health & safety advice and help care for your lone workers.

Our clients get access to 24/7 HR consultation on working hours and their legal requirements. And if you are not yet a client, you can still enjoy free advice from one of our business specialists. Simply call us on 0800 029 4391.

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