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Coronavirus - Update for Members working in Road Transport

Last updated: 20 May

Usdaw is aware that our members across the transport industry are working extraordinarily in the current crisis. While our members are doing all they can to keep the economy going, we are clear that employers must take all possible steps to ensure your safety. In light of the Coronavirus, we have provided a summary of developments within the sector for your information along with key points on social distancing measures which should be followed at sites.

We have also provided information on the Job Retention Scheme and other FAQs. If you have any further questions, please feel free to get in touch with your rep or full-time official.

Temporary Relaxation of Drivers’ Hours

In light of the pressure on the industry, the Government has relaxed the Drivers’ Hours regulations. Drivers can work longer hours to ensure businesses can complete critical deliveries under the unprecedented and exceptional circumstances affecting the industry due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The relaxation of hours has been extended. They will now apply from Monday 23 March to Sunday 31 May 2020. The Department for Transport have said they will keep these arrangements under review and the relaxations may be amended or brought to an end earlier should the current circumstances change. Usdaw is clear that employers must consult with the Union before changing hours and that additional hours cannot be worked if they put your safety in danger.

Relaxation of EU Drivers’ Hours Rules

The EU drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

a) Replacement of the EU daily driving limit of 9 hours with one of 11 hours. 

b) Reduction of the daily rest requirements from 11 to 9 hours.

c) Lifting the weekly (56 hours) and fortnightly driving limits (90 hours) to 60 and 96 hours respectively .

d) Postponement of the requirement to start a weekly rest period after six 24 hours periods, for after seven 24 hours period; although 2 regular weekly rest periods or a regular and a reduced weekly rest period will still be required within a fortnight. 

e) Drivers using the relaxation at ‘b’, reducing their daily rest from 11 hours to 9, can still use the derogation allowing them to interrupt their daily rest, by up to one hour, to embark and disembark from a train or a ferry.

Drivers must not use relaxation ‘a’ and ‘d’ at the same time. This is to ensure drivers can get adequate rest.

  • These relaxations in Drivers’ Hours rules should only be implemented through agreement between employers and employees and/or driver representatives. If your employer is trying to change your hours, speak to your rep.
  • Where relaxations have been agreed, you must note on the back of your tachograph charts or printouts the reasons why you are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.

Relaxation of GB Drivers’ Hours Rules

The GB drivers’ hours rules can be temporarily relaxed as follows:

a) Replacement of the GB duty time limit of 11 hours with 12 hours.

b) Replacement of the GB daily driving time limit of 10 hours with 11 hours.

Drivers can only take advantage of this temporary relaxation for 5 days in any 7 day period, and must take a rest period of at least 24 hours within the same 7 day period when taking advantage of this relaxation.

Relaxation of these rules should only be implemented through agreement between employers and employees and/or driver representatives.

You must note on your record sheet (or tachograph charts or printouts if applicable) the reasons why you are exceeding the normally permitted limits. This is usual practice in emergencies and is, of course, essential for enforcement purposes.

You should only work additional hours if you feel physically and mentally able to work longer hours and you should not be forced to work longer hours if you feel incapable to do so. Furthermore, if you cannot work longer hours due to caring responsibilities for dependants, this should be considered.

Usdaw expects companies to:

  • Brief drivers thoroughly so they fully understand the changes and what it means to them.
  • Put in place additional health and safety measures and check in with drivers to ensure you are not feeling fatigued.
  • Ensure that the same drivers will not be constantly used/asked to work longer hours.

Temporary Removal of D4 Licence Renewal.

The Government has temporarily relaxed the requirement for lorry drivers to provide a doctor’s medical report in order to renew their licence.

If your licence is due to expire in 2020, you will be able to receive a temporary 1-year licence, providing you do not have any medical conditions that affect your driving.

The licence will only be valid for 1 year, at which point you will need to submit a completed D4 form in the normal way.

If you are a driver with health issues, you must still declare these. Any drivers with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed.

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:

  • Restrict 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.
  • Clear provisions for workers to keep at least 2 metres apart at all times, in line with Government guidance.
  • 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.
  • Early shift finishes, and guarantee of overtime payments, where time spent leaving the site has increased due to queues adhering to social distancing.
  • Staggered break times along with extra break rooms with adequate rest facilities and additional smoking areas to ensure social distancing.
Next Distribution is slowly re-opening a number of their warehouses to fulfil a proportion of online orders. Usdaw and Next Distribution have worked together to implement robust health and safety measures to protect colleagues that have volunteered to return to work. Some of the measures implemented are below:
  • One in / one out and one way systems around sites.
  • Staggered start / finish times.
  • Staggered breaks.
  • 2m distancing markers all round site.
  • Washing facilities on entering site.
  • One in one out toilet facilities onsite with extra portaloos situated outside.
  • Screens up between work stations, with additional doors.
  • Many more proactive measures and benefits.

Two Person Operations

Government guidance around safe working practices says that employers should find alternative solutions to two person operations where possible. The guidance recommends only one person should travel in a vehicle and vehicles should not be shared.

Suggested ways to manage two person operations include:

  • suspending heavy duty deliveries or
  • using two vehicles.
Where these solutions are not possible, the guidance looks at:
  • fixed pairing of two people
  • opening windows to increase ventilation and
  • sitting ‘side by side’ instead of ‘face to face’

Usdaw maintains that unless vehicles are large enough to allow 2 metre social distancing, sharing of vehicles should cease and alternative measures should be followed as set out above. If you are concerned about being asked to share a vehicle please contact your rep or local official.

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:

  • Avoid all handshakes or physical contact with anyone while on your delivery routes.
  • Always use gloves when outside your vehicle.
  • 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.
  • If you do need to use outside toilets, wipe the seat with an anti-bacterial wipe and wash your hands thoroughly with soaps and water after use.
  • 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 or social distancing 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 stringent social distancing 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.

Job Retention Scheme

You may currently be ‘furloughed’ under the Job Retention Scheme if your workplace is closed or you are unable to work. If you are put on furlough status, your pay may be reduced to 80% of your average earnings. Your employer can only claim if you were on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020, and they had notified HMRC of your employment by that date. Further information on the furlough scheme is available here

Freedom From Fear

As a result of the outbreak, there has been a major increase in the amount of orders placed online and Usdaw members have been working very hard to ensure goods are delivered to customers, including those who are shielding or self-isolating.

Employers should have implemented measures to protect the health and safety of drivers and customers. However, if a customer refuses to follow these measures or is abusive you must report it to your manager.

More information on safety for delivery drivers can be found here.

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 £5 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. 

Driver’s Handbook

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.

Further Information

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for additional information and advice.

General FAQs –  http://www.usdaw.org.uk/CoronavirusFAQ 

For those with underlying health conditions and carers – http://www.usdaw.org.uk/CoronavirusVulnerableHealthFAQ 

For pregnant workers – http://www.usdaw.org.uk/Coronaviruspregnant

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