Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations

Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations

1. Introduction

The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations – RT(WT)R came into force on the 4th April 2005. This section will help you understand the Regulations.

2. Key Points

The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations should be viewed in conjunction with the present EU Drivers’ Hours Rules (EC561/2006 – introduced on 11th April 2007) and limit the amount of time worked rather than just the amount of time spent driving. Under RT(WT)R you must not work more than:

  • An average of 48 hours per week over a reference period (see section 8)
  • 60 hours in any single week
  • 10 hours in any 24-hour period, if you are working at night, unless a ‘relevant agreement’ exists between you and your employer (see section 9)
  • Who is affected by the Road Transport (Working Time)


The Regulations affect drivers and other ‘mobile workers’ who are involved in operations subject to EU Drivers’ Hours Rules (EC561/2006). Generally, drivers and travelling crew in a vehicle fitted with a tachograph are covered e.g. drivers’ mates, conductors and porters.

Agency drivers and those working through an Employment Business are also covered by these Regulations, as are drivers who work on a ‘self employed’ basis, subject to a strict definition detailed within the Regulation.

You cannot opt out of the Regulations.

4. Who is not affected by the Regulations?

Excluded from the Regulations are drivers and crew travelling in vehicles not covered by the EU Drivers’ Hours Rules. Workers who occasionally work under the EU Drivers’ Hours Rules are also excluded. They are exempt if they work on fewer than 16 days in a reference period of 26 weeks or more, or on fewer than 11 days in a reference period of less than 26 weeks.

5. What counts as ‘working time’?

Working time is specifically defined by the Regulations as road transport and other activities undertaken for your employer.

It is the time you spend carrying out your duties such as driving, loading or unloading and maintaining your vehicle. Other examples include: training, daily safety checks, traffic jams, helping passengers and time spent waiting if it is not known about in advance.

Any statutory paid leave including holidays, sickness and domestic leave counts as working time by adding 48 hours to your working time for each complete working week, and 8 hours per day for incomplete weeks.

If you work for more than one employer, then weekly working time is the combined total of the time worked for all employers. You must notify each employer of the time worked for every employer, whatever the nature of their business.

6. What doesn’t count as ‘working time’?

Working time does not include travel to and from work, rest or break periods, leave taken in excess of statutory entitlement, Periods of Availability, and days during which you might have no work e.g. you are stood down and not receiving any pay from an employer.

The self employed do not have to count any paperwork they do, (e.g. accounts or VAT returns), as working time. However, delivery documentation associated with a particular delivery they are making would count.

7. What is a Period of Availability?

A Period of Availability (POA) is time spent waiting to start or re-commence work, the duration of which is known about in advance e.g. a known delay before unloading. You must however be available to resume work if requested to do so, i.e. remain on call.

If you use a tachograph to record working time, you must use the ‘on duty and available for work mode’ to record POAs.

8. What is a ‘reference period’?

A reference period is the period over which your average weekly working time is calculated. The Regulations provide for a default reference period of 17/18 weeks with set start dates. However, alternative reference periods can be agreed with the workforce using a ‘relevant agreement’.

Employers may choose to apply a rolling 17-week reference period (similar to the one used in the existing Working Time Regulations) providing they notify the workforce concerned. No ‘relevant agreement’ is required.

For the purposes of the Regulations a week is a period starting at 00:00 Monday and ending 00:00 the following Monday.

9. What is a ‘relevant agreement’?

This can either be a collective agreement or a workforce agreement. A collective agreement is one made between the employer and an independent trade union. A workforce agreement is made between the employer and the relevant mobile workers or their representatives.

A collective or workforce agreement can be used to extend the night work limit, extend reference periods from 17/18 weeks up to 26 weeks, to change the start dates of reference periods and to allow rolling reference periods in excess of 17 weeks.

10. What is classed as ‘night time’ work?

Night time is defined as a period between 00:00 – 04:00 for goods vehicles and 01:00 – 05:00 for passenger vehicles. Night work is any work, which starts or finishes within, or spans these periods.

11. Rest and Breaks

All crew members travelling on a vehicle (i.e. the entire travelling staff, not just the driver) are covered by the rest and break provisions of RT(WT)R. The provisions of EC561/2006 still apply while you are driving and take precedence (see our tachograph guide).

In brief the major rules regarding breaks are:

  • 11 consecutive hours of rest in each 24 hour period
  • 45 consecutive hours’ weekly rest
  • 45 minutes break after 4.5 hours of driving

The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations impose additional break requirements:

  • Not to work more than 6 hours without a break
  • If working time is between 6 and 9 hours per day then breaks amounting to at least 30 minutes must be taken
  • If working time exceeds 9 hours per day then breaks amounting to 45 minutes must be taken
  • Breaks must be no less than 15 minutes in duration
  • Breaks must be taken on days when the mobile worker is not travelling

Care must be taken to ensure both sets of rules are complied with when driving and other non-driving work is undertaken.

12. Keeping Records

Your employer must keep accurate working time records for a period of two years. Your employer should provide you with a method of recording your working time. This might be a time sheet or by using the recorded data from the tachograph.

If you work for more than one employer you must inform your employers in writing of who else you work for and the working time you do for each of them.

While employers have responsibility for maintaining accurate working time records, mobile workers are equally responsible for compliance with the regulations. Mobile workers can be prosecuted for knowingly committing breaches including neglecting to inform employers about work undertaken for any other employer or knowingly making a false record. The self employed are required to keep their own Working Time records.

13. Emergencies

In the event of an emergency, you may depart from these Regulations in order to safeguard the vehicle, load and yourself, but only when it is necessary and does not compromise road safety.

14. Who enforces the Regulations?

DVSA in Great Britain and the DVA in Northern Ireland enforce the Regulations.