Last updated: 1 Oct 2021
Our members across the road transport industry have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic as key workers, ensuring food and essential supplies continue to be delivered. Despite the current pressure on warehouse and distribution companies, Usdaw is clear that employers must take all possible steps to ensure your safety.
We have provided a summary of developments within the sector for your information along with key points on coronavirus safety measures which should continue to be followed at all sites.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to get in touch with your rep or full-time official.
Temporary relaxation of the retained EU drivers’ hours rules
The Government announced a temporary relaxation of the retained EU drivers’ rules on the 30 September. The changes are an attempt to reduce the current pressure on local and national supply chains, which are being caused by the national shortage of HGV Drivers.
The temporary extension to drivers hours, which initially ran until 3 October has been extended. The relaxation will apply from 12.01am on 4 October 2021 until 11.59pm on 31 October 2021.
From 4 October, drivers’ hours can temporarily be relaxed in one of two ways:
1. The daily driving limit can be increased from 9 hours to ten hours up to 4 times in a week (instead of the normal permitted increase to 10 hours twice a week) all other driving limits remain at 9 hours.
2. Replacement of the requirement to take at least 2 weekly rest periods including at least one regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours in a 2-week period, with an alternative permissible pattern of weekly rest periods as specified below, and an increase to the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours.
The alternative pattern of weekly rest periods for drivers using the relaxation related to weekly rest periods is as follows:
- The regular weekly rest period in a 2-week period can be replaced by 2 reduced weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours.
- Following this, and by the end of the next 2 weeks, 2 regular weekly rest periods must be taken. However, any reduction in weekly rest shall be compensated for in the normal way by an equivalent period of rest taken before the end of the third week following the week in question.
- In addition, any rest taken as compensation for a reduced weekly rest period shall be attached to a regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours (which can be split over 2 regular weekly rest periods).
All employers making use of the relaxed rules need to notify the Department for Transport, and failure to do so may lead to follow up investigatory action.
Drivers must note on the back of their tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why they are exceeding the normally permitted limits.
Any reduced weekly rest periods taken before 4 October 2021 must be taken into account and compensated for in the normal way before using the alternative weekly rest period permitted under this relaxation.
If any reduced weekly rest periods are taken in the 2 weeks prior to the end of the relaxation period (31 October 2021), compensatory rest must still be taken as described.
Usdaw’s position on the rule changes
The health and safety of our members must always come first.
Drivers should only work longer hours where they feel they are able to do so safely, and should not be forced to work longer hours than they are comfortable with. Furthermore, we expect companies to only use the temporary relaxation where necessary, otherwise the normal drivers’ hours rules should be followed.
Drivers continue to be bound by the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005. This legally limits the amount of working time (including driving) a driver can do in any given week to a maximum of 60 hours, with an average of 48 hours a week calculated over a rolling 17- to 26-week period.
Furthermore, if drivers cannot work longer hours due to caring responsibilities for dependants, this should also be considered.
Any practical implementation of the temporary relaxation should be through agreement between employers and Usdaw representatives.
We expect site managers to:
- Brief drivers thoroughly so they fully understand the changes and what it means to them.
- Carry out risk assessments
- Put in place additional health and safety measures to check in with drivers to ensure they are not feeling fatigued.
- Ensure the same drivers will not be constantly asked to work longer hours.
Driving Whilst Your Licence is with the DVLA for Renewal
If you have applied to the DVLA for a renewal of your licence, but the licence expires while they are processing your application, you may still be able to drive.
Once the DVLA receives your correct and complete application for a new licence, as long as you meet the Section 88 criteria and providing your Group 2 licence has not been suspended, revoked or refused by a traffic commissioner, you may continue to drive.
More information on this and the Section 88 criteria can be found here.
Coronavirus Safety Measures Employers Should Take
Employers have a legal duty of care to their workforce and all workplaces which are operational should be making adjustments to ensure that workers are safe. Your employer must have completed a risk assessment to look at the additional risks presented as a result of Coronavirus. Following the risk assessment, your employer should be putting measures in place to ensure the safety of members. How this works will vary considerably between workplaces, but some examples of measures that might be taken are listed below:
- Maximising the supply of fresh air to indoor premises.
- Requiring face coverings to be worn, particularly when in crowded places indoors.
- Restricting drivers entering transport offices.
- Drivers to remain in cabs whilst unloading.
- Identify and regularly clean key touch points e.g. door handles, keypads.
- Take extra care wiping down vehicles before and after each use.
- Additional sinks, provision of hand sanitiser and cleaning equipment for all work stations.
- Thorough and regular cleaning of rollcages, VDUs and other equipment.
- Increased hours for cleaning staff.
- Staggered shift start times, with agreement, to reduce congestion.
- Staggered break times along with extra break rooms with adequate rest facilities.
Two Person Operations
Despite legal social distancing guidance no longer applying within Step 4, employers should mitigate risk by reducing the number of people workers come into contact with.
- Measures to make two person operations safer include:
- Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
- Opening doors and windows where possible and safe to do so.
- Wearing a face covering.
- Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
- Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
- Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using “fixed teams or partnering” (so each person works with only a few others).
- Increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
Staying Safe When Making Deliveries
Drivers across the sector have to make deliveries to a range of different locations which can present a number of hazards. Employers must be doing all they can to ensure your safety when making these deliveries and should be briefing you on any additional measures. There are also a number of steps you can take on a daily basis:
- Wearing a face covering, particularly when in crowded places indoors.
- Taking measures to improve natural ventilation when inside, or remaining outside where possible.
- Avoid all handshakes or physical contact with anyone while on your delivery routes.
- Before getting back into your vehicle after carrying out your delivery, sanitize your hands thoroughly and sanitize your hands regularly throughout the day.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down your door handles, dashboard, steering wheel, gear stick on a regular basis.
- Wash your hands before preparing any food or drinks.
Businesses have now removed requirements for customers to sign for goods wherever possible. Where there is a legal requirement for delivery documentation, employers must maximise the use of electronic paperwork and review procedures to enable safe exchange of paper copies where absolutely necessary.
If you have any concerns regarding your health and safety at your site, please speak to your Usdaw rep or Official.
Access to Welfare Facilities
Drivers are entitled to use welfare facilities (handwashing, toilet facilities) at any site they visit to deliver haulage.
Although sites will have coronavirus safety measures in place, this should not prevent drivers from using welfare facilities on site.
If you have any concerns, please speak to your Usdaw rep or Official.
Usdaw – the Trade Union for Professional Drivers
We look after the interests of Usdaw members who drive for a living; this includes representation on pay and conditions of employment. We have agreements covering drivers in companies such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Wincanton, Yodel, Hermes, Co-op, XPO, Next Distribution and DHL.
We maintain an up-to-date information system on transport matters and provide help and advice to members.
We also give you a voice through your own representative on the National Road Transport Committee – Usdaw’s national forum for transport matters.
Road Transport Distress Fund
Professional drivers spending a lot of time on the road are more likely to receive traffic offences. As a member of Usdaw, you can join the Road Transport Distress Fund for £6 per year. The fund covers members who receive work-related penalties for motoring offences. After 13 weeks’ membership of the Distress Fund you are entitled to up to three claims per year.
If you would like to join the distress fund, please contact [email protected]
If you are a member of the fund and have received an offence whilst at work, please fill in the claim form and email to [email protected]. Please ensure you include copies of the Penalty Charge Notice and proof that the fine has been paid.
As a driver, you need to be kept informed of road transport laws and regulations. Usdaw has compiled a Driver’s Handbook* which provides information and advice for drivers’. *Please note that some information will not be correct due to temporary changes as a result of the outbreak.
If you are a new driver, you should have received adequate training before you begin your new role. However, if you have any concerns please speak to your Usdaw rep. You can also use the Handbook to assist you with any general query regarding road laws and regulations.