Drivers’ hours law: some urgent relaxations to address supply chain issues

  • Posted

From 12:01 am on 10 December 2020 until 11:59 pm on 30 December 2020 there is a limited relaxation of the enforcement of drivers’ hours rules that will apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

This is intended to address what HM Govt describes as ‘urgent and exceptional issues related to certain road transport operations, including in the context of port congestion, unusual demand patterns and the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19)-related restrictions on supply chains and demand on them.’ Issues at ports such as Felixstowe and Southampton are now well-known, as is Brexit-related stockpiling.

The measures are to be a) implemented by agreement between the operator and the driver b) recorded by drivers on charts and printouts c) only put into operation when truly necessary and d) operators are generally expected to manage/plan for supply chain disruption. There must be no compromise of road safety.

Scope of relaxation

It applies to drivers within GB engaged in the transport of:

  1. Food and other essential goods from ports within Great Britain. This includes driving of mixed loads with a significant content of such goods. Essential goods include category 1 goods*. Where transports of other goods are required to enable category 1 goods to be moved out of ports, the relaxation is also applicable. (NB this paragraph does not apply to deliveries by drivers direct to customers.)
  2. Food and other essential goods for retail, including mixed loads with a significant content of such goods. This category includes the following journeys:
  • distribution centre to stores (or fulfilment centre)
  • from manufacturer or supplier to distribution centre (including backhaul collections)
  • from manufacturer or supplier to store (or fulfilment centre)
  • between distribution centres and transport hub trunking
  • transport hub deliveries to stores

This relaxation (2.) does not apply to drivers not subject to tachograph controls. This is the case for most deliveries direct to consumers, usually made by light goods vehicles. Point 2 can be used by drivers subject to tachograph controls for business to consumer deliveries.

(* Class I category goods are ones critical to the preservation of human or animal welfare and/or UK national security.)

The rules relaxations published are:

  • replacement of the requirement to take a full weekly rest period of 45 hours in a 2-week period with an alternative pattern of weekly rest periods specified below. This enables 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods to be taken on the run-up to Christmas
  • that in a 4-week period beginning on 10 December 2020, a driver can take 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest periods of at least 24 hours (allowing them to work two 6-day weeks); even if the week before the driver had already taken a reduced weekly rest
  • 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 (other than the initial 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)
  • increasing the fortnightly driving limit from 90 hours to 99 hours’

This relaxation must not be used in combination with existing rules for international driving, which allow for 2 consecutive reduced weekly rest breaks in certain circumstances. It is not recommended this relaxation be used for drivers engaged partly in international journeys.’


Operators have to notify the DfT if this relaxation is to be used on an initial notification of relaxation form that is to be emailed to Then, a completed follow-up notification of relaxation form has to be emailed to the same address one week after the end of the period of relaxation.

driver's hours'

We Can Help You

If you have any questions regarding drivers hours’ law, or any other Road Transport or Regulatory matters, please get in contact with us on 0330 404 0777 or email


After the tremendous success of our last transport webinar ‘DVSA maintenance & driver investigations’, and the numerous requests for further online events from our Transport and Regulatory specialist, Tim Ridyard, we are pleased to announce that Tim will be holding a webinar on ‘Fixed penalties and court proceedings’ on 17 December at 10 am. For more info and to register, click here.


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