EU aims to improve drivers’ working conditions

EU aims to improve drivers’ working conditions

New European Union (EU) measures that aim to improve professional drivers’ working conditions and include special posting rules for drivers in international transport were agreed to earlier in 2020. The employment measures — part of Mobility Package I — comprise a regulation on the maximum daily and weekly driving times, minimum breaks and daily and weekly rest periods, effective 21 Sep 2020, and a directive on the working conditions and social protection of posted drivers in the road transport sector, effective 6 Feb 2022.

Regulation relating to driving times, rest periods and smart tachographs

  • Prohibition on drivers spending the regular weekly rest period in their vehicles. Drivers’ regular weekly rest periods, and every other rest period of more than 45 hours that is taken to compensate for a previously shortened weekly rest period, must not be spent in their vehicles or in parking areas. Employers must pay for gender-sensitive accommodation that provides adequate sleeping and sanitary facilities. 
  • Reduction of weekly rest periods. Drivers working in international freight transport can spend two consecutive reduced weekly rest periods outside of the member state in which their company is established, but must take at least four weekly rest periods in four consecutive weeks, two of which must be regular weekly rest periods.
  • Exceptions to exceeding the daily or weekly driving time. In unforeseen situations, drivers can exceed their daily and weekly driving time by up to one hour (extendable to two hours in certain circumstances) when returning to their employer’s operating center or their own place of residence, with the aim of taking their regular weekly rest period. All driving time extensions must be compensated for by equivalent rest breaks and documented.
  • Introduction of smart tachographs. The European Commission will present technical specifications for on-board mandatory digital recorders (tachographs) by August 2021, and their use in vehicles will be phased in from 2023. They aim to improve the labor law compliance monitoring (such as driving times, rest periods and the posting of workers).
  • Information on secure parking areas. Professional drivers in road freight and passenger transport must have easy access to information on safe and secure parking spaces. To this end, the commission will publish a list of certified parking spaces that provide detection and prevention of unauthorized intrusion, appropriate lighting and visibility, emergency contact points, gender-sensitive sanitation facilities and opportunities to purchase food and drinks, and communication links and adequate power supplies.

Directive on posting of drivers in transport sector

The directive aims to clarify when professional drivers in goods or passenger transport will receive the same pay for the same work at the same place, and sets out the circumstances in which drivers are excluded from the directive. 

Commission’s concern with certain measures

After finalization of the regulation and directive, the commission flagged its concern with certain included measures that had not featured in the commission’s original 2019 proposals. In particular, the requirement to return vehicles every eight weeks to the member state in which the employer is located, do not meet the EU’s environmental targets.

Fiona Webster
by Fiona Webster

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Stephanie Rosseau
by Stephanie Rosseau

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

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