Working Time Directive Explained

The purpose of the working time directive is to regulate the number of hours a driver can work, both behind the wheel and in other work environments. This is to ensure the safety of HGV and PCV drivers, as well as other road users. The directive places restrictions on the number of hours a driver is allowed to work, but the rules themselves can be confusing and many drivers are unclear as to their rights when it comes to how many hours at a time they are allowed to drive, as well as the rest periods they are required by law to take. 

A digital tachograph is extremely helpful for drivers and fleet managers alike. The SE5000 Digital Tachograph offers real-time updates on driving and rest time, an easy manual entry function with ‘rest until now’ and Working Time Directive calculations included. 

What is the Working Time Directive?

The Working Time Directive is often confused with the Drivers Hours Rules. However, they are not the same and both sets of rules must be adhered to in tandem by mobile drivers.

A person driving on the main road at night

The Working Time Directive rules explained

Maximum weekly average

The HGV Working Time Directive is usually recorded over a period of 17 weeks. In rarer cases, and if changed by Workforce Agreement the time can be recorded up to a period of  26 weeks. The basic rule of the directive is that a driver must not average any more than 48 working hours per week over their reference period (17-26 weeks). 

A maximum working time of 60 hours can be worked in any given week, however, the weekly working average must be no more than 48 hours per week. 

Working time breaks 

When it comes to taking breaks, the Working Time Directive states that a driver should work no more than six consecutive hours in a day without a break.

If a driver works between six and nine hours, 30 minutes of break time should be taken across their shift. If nine hours of work is exceeded, a further 15 minutes of break time must be taken. 

When it comes to night work, drivers must not exceed 10 hours of working in any 24-hour period. That means, when 10 hours of driving have been clocked, they cannot drive again for another 14 hours. Nighttime is classed as the period between midnight and 4am for goods vehicles and 1am to 5am for Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCVs). The requirement to operate under the night working restrictions can be amended under a collective or workforce agreement. 

The SE5000 Connekt Digital Tachograph includes Working Time Directive calculations so that drivers and fleet managers can stay on top of the hours worked. 

Someone holding a small white alarm clock

Sick days and holidays

To calculate the Working Time Directive, any single day of holiday taken by a driver should be recorded as statutory leave which is eight hours of work. So, if for instance, 1 week of holiday is taken, then that full week is recorded as 48 hours. 

Any days that a driver is unwell and unable to work (sick days) are recorded in exactly the same way as holidays. 

Bank holidays will be counted as ‘free days’ and will not count towards your Working Time Directive as sick days and holidays do. In the instance that a driver works the bank holiday, this will not apply. 

If a driver spends time working in the office, yard or on training, this time will be calculated and will go towards the hours for their Working Time Directive. 

Exemptions from the Working Time Directive

There is a list of people who do not need to monitor their Working Time Directive hours. 

  • Those that do not drive more than 10 times within a Working Time Directive reference period (17 to  26 weeks) do not need to monitor their average weekly hours. 
  • If a Working Time Directive period of more than 26 weeks is being used, a driver can drive up to 15 times before having to monitor their average weekly hours, however, they must still adhere to the daily limit and rest stop rules which are tracked by the digital tachograph fitted to their vehicle. 

You can read more from us on our Driver’s Blog, from the latest regulations to industry top tips.