This guide looks at the European Working Time Directive, covering all the key details your fleet business needs to know about it and explaining its relationship to the Drivers’ Hours Rules.
The European Working Time Directive (EWTD) is EU health and safety legislation that guarantees EU workers receive basic rights for the hours they work and holidays they’re entitled to.
If you employ full time drivers, or workers who spend part of their working day driving and other parts of the day doing a different type of work, you will need to follow a second set of regulations as well. These are called the Drivers’ Hours Rules.
Both sets of rules were created by the European Union. Following Brexit, the UK Government has no intention in the foreseeable future to change these rules. Companies are expected to continue following all these regulations, which are part of UK law.
It can be confusing to follow two separate sets of working time rules. Both sets are necessary, however, to cover all types of jobs where driving may be a part, but not all, of how someone spends their working hours.
This guide explains both sets of rules. It also refers to telematics and tachograph technology, which can make it easier to track if you are following the rules correctly and also logs all-important evidence that you have done so.
There are five key minimum requirements every employee gets as part of the EWTD:
The promotion of healthy working conditions is a vital part of the European Pillar of Social Rights, 20 principles and rights (from lifelong learning to fair wages) that the EU is committed to providing citizens within the union.
The UK government’s overview of the working time directive explains that it means “you can’t work more than 48 hours a week on average, normally averaged over 17 weeks” — if you are aged 18 or over.
Workers under 18 can’t work more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day.
One of the important things to note about the working time directive is that workers can opt out of it. This means you can choose to work more than 48 hours a week.
Employers can also ask you to opt out of it. However, you have the legal right to refuse this request and your employer can’t treat you unfairly or sack you if you decide not to opt out.
The EWTD rules promote the health and safety of EU workers.
They outline legal minimum standards that every EU business must provide to its employees, covering holidays, rest periods and safety practices for night workers.
These rules have been legal requirements for all businesses in the UK during the period of the nation’s EU membership since their introduction in 2003.
The drivers’ hours rules (Regulation (EC)561/2006) is EU legislation that applies to lorry drivers in tandem with the EWTD.
These rules apply specifically to how long drivers can work for, the breaks they must legally take and the rest periods they must have between their shifts.
There are three key components to the rules — driving, break and rest.
Each of these three elements has regulations on the hours drivers must abide by. These are the rules they must follow.
It’s essential your business and your drivers follow both the EWTD regulations and drivers’ rules.
There are some circumstances where there can be exemptions to elements of the European Working Time Directive.
These exemptions cover the following aspects of the EWTD:
The UK Government adds further detail to this by outlining the following job exceptions that mean you may need to work over 48 hours per week on average:
You can also personally choose exemption to the EWTD, if you decide to opt out of it. This must be your choice and your employee cannot put you under duress to exempt yourself from the EWTD.
It’s the legal responsibility of business owners to ensure their employees don’t work over 48 hours a week on average — unless the employee specifically chooses to opt out of this.
If your company employees drivers then you can use telematics to help you monitor the number of hours your workers are using their vehicles.
This is because telematics devices track vehicle drive time. This gives you an electronic record of how many hours your employees have been driving for during work hours each week.
If you want to use these devices to help ensure your company meets its legal requirement of guaranteeing your drivers don’t work more than 48 hours a week, check out iCompario’s telematics systems.
You can enter your business needs to make sure you get the right device for your company. You are likely to need a tachograph if your fleet contains HGVs, haulage vehicles and your drivers tend to transport goods for large parts of the day. For some companies it may be adequate to use a different type of telematics which gives you the data you need to keep a record of the driving hours and break times of your employees and combine that with their other working hours.
Once you’ve done this you’ll have a telematics system that not only records the time your drivers spend working but also their driving behaviour.
This will ensure your drivers work no more than their legal hours and give you the data your business needs to keep your vehicles on the road for longer — you can catch any behaviours that lead to wear and tear before they cause significant damage to your vehicles.
So, invest in a telematics device and you’ll be able to keep to the European Working Time Directive and keep your vehicles on the road for longer.