Drivers Hours: time recording policy – an update

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Changes in the way drivers who use tachographs have to record breaks, rest and holidays/sickness were introduced in August 2020.

This has been a source of frustration, and concern, deemed unnecessarily burdensome and lacking clarity, though a legal requirement.

However, the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has now clarified (2 September) what records it expects operators and drivers to keep and be able to produce.

This assists to some extent in understanding what is required and the policy. As this has been announced as its stated application of the rules, DVSA cannot enforce this in a way inconsistent with this approach.

Background to the changes

The changes to the EU driver’s hours and use of tachographs were introduced in August 2020. It was already the case that drivers must have, and be able to produce, a record of their daily activities on the day of any roadside vehicle inspection and for the whole of the previous 28 days. When a driver undertook a new work shift, the tachograph rules he or she would record any intervening work, but otherwise, rest was assumed if it was not necessarily formally recorded, e.g. when the driver had a weekend or overnight rest.

However, from August 2020, records have had to positively reflect all time, covering all the following categories of activity. These are:

  • driving and any other work
  • periods of availability
  • breaks
  • rest periods, annual leave and sickness leave.

This has meant that records with all this information have needed to be created for the 29-day period (the current day and the previous 28 days) and be recorded on either manual record sheets (analogue tachographs) or on printout paper (used by digital tachographs) – not diaries or other means of evidence.

DVSA Approach

The underlying problem faced by DVSA is trying to police drivers who do not record time spent carrying out other work or conceal insufficient rest. The change in the law means, or is intended to achieve, the fullest picture of what a driver has been doing.

However, it may be that a driver is not driving or carrying out work activities on certain days. Do they still have to create records for those days? After all, they may be on holiday or on sick leave. The answer is yes – however, DVSA states that it is “accepting, until further notice, recording of activities in blocks to cover any fixed week during which no in-scope driving takes place”.

Specifically, DVSA will accept the revised rules are complied with as follows:

  • if there is no in-scope driving under the EU Driver’s Hours Rules in any fixed week, a block recording can be made to cover the whole of that fixed week (NB a fixed week = 00:00 hours Monday to 24:00 hours Sunday). Such records have to include all weekly rest periods within that fixed week. (So, there must still be a positive record created even though no work is happening)
  • if any in-scope driving is carried out on any day, then a complete record has to be kept for that whole week (i.e. separate records for each 24-hour period).

Whilst this makes matters less administratively cumbersome to some extent, it remains the case that lots of records have to be kept. Of particular concern may be drivers who only occasionally drive within the EU tachograph rules – such a driver may have a long break from driving over many weeks and days. However, they must still create and produce blocks of recorded time, correctly set out on analogue chart manual record or on digital printout paper. It will not be possible for drivers to have gaps in the records they produce that are “silent” on what they have been doing, even though, say, they are on holiday.

As always, the EU driver’s hours and tachograph rules are somewhat easier to implement for vocational drivers carrying out routine daily driving work all day, but the rules are more burdensome for those who drive less regularly, perhaps only occasionally.

Since the changes of rules were introduced on 20 August 2020, there appears to have been a diverse and arguably inconsistent approach in the approach to the recording of time by DVSA examiners in different parts of the country. Anecdotally, this appears to have varied between a very strict approach and a more pragmatic stance, where DVSA examiners explore further evidence and the reasons for missing data.

This policy announcement assists in giving a clearer steer and may enhance a more consistent approach. It will not appease many who think that the recording of things such as holiday and sickness under the revised rules is wholly disproportionate, and the new regime is generally still too invasive.

Contact our road transport solicitors today

If you require any advice with regard to Goods and Passenger Operator Licencing, including advice concerning DVSA Investigations, correspondence with the Office of The Traffic Commissioner or Traffic Commissioner Preliminary Hearing/Public Inquiry work, then please contact us using our online enquiry form or by calling 0330 404 7949.


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