Labour Research May 2012

Law Matters

Working time on road regs are broadened

Thanks to a concerted and sustained effort by the general union Unite, the European Transport Federation and European Parliamentarians, member states have finally been shamed into extending the scope of road working time rules to the self-employed.

From 11 May 2012, self-employed drivers are to have their hours regulated under the amended The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005.

The regulations now limit the amount of time that a self-employed person can carry out mobile transport activities. A number of duties, not just driving, count towards working-time limits. Some of the duties that count towards time limits are loading/unloading, cleaning and technical maintenance, as well as time spent waiting to start normal work. Administrative tasks, which are not directly related to specific transport operations, are excluded from the time limits.

The previous exclusion of self-employed drivers from working time limits has been controversial for years. Some unscrupulous employers have been suspected of forcing workers to register as self-employed, rather than acknowledging that they are in fact employees, partly in order to get round the limit on hours.

Aside from the impact on the ability of unions to organise self-employed workers, companies engaging the self-employed have been able to outcompete the companies which do abide by the rules by overworking people.

Regulations are at: