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How to calculate the length of the weekly rest period correctly? When should it begin and in what instances can it be reduced?
The problem of the weekly rest period is certainly a complex one. I will attempt to present how to make use of the provisions on weekly rest in practice in a way that will make it possible to avoid criminal sanctions and satisfy the obligations towards one’s contractors by delivering the cargo on time.
I shall start by citing the definition of « weekly rest » in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport and amending Council Regulations (EEC) No 3821/85 and (EC) No 2135/98 and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85 (Text with EEA relevance) (Declaration OJ L 102, 11.4.2006)
« Weekly rest period » means the weekly period during which a driver may freely dispose of his time and covers a « regular weekly rest period » and a « reduced weekly rest period »:
– « regular weekly rest period » means any period of rest of at least 45 hours,
– « reduced weekly rest period » means any period of rest of less than 45 hours, which may, subject to the conditions laid down in Article 8(6), be reduced to a minimum of 24 consecutive hours;
Another important definition needed to set the weekly rest time properly is the definition of the week, which rigidly defines it as « the period of time between 00.00 on Monday and 24.00 on Sunday ».
Since we already established how long the weekly rest period should be and in what time period it should be counted, all that is left is to determine when the employees should begin their rest and how to plan this time in a correct way.
In accordance with art. 8 par. 6 of the above Regulation, « In any two consecutive weeks a driver shall take at least:
– two regular weekly rest periods, or
– one regular weekly rest period and one reduced weekly rest period of at least 24 hours. »
And here is exactly where things get complicated. Based on this, is it possible to use two reduced rest periods in a row in two consecutive weeks?
The subsequent parts of the article specify when the weekly rest period should begin, i.e. not later than after the end of six 24-hour periods from the end of the previous weekly rest period, as well as which week the rest period should be counted towards. Note that a weekly rest period which falls in two weeks can be included in either one of them, but not both.
Using the definition of « week » and the provision on taking rest no later than after six 24-hour periods, I will now present an example of two consecutive instances of a reduced weekly rest period in a two-week period that remains in-line with this provision.
One day, a client called me to ask for advice. I asked about the details of the issue and found out that the driver began work on a Monday following a regular weekly rest period, while his weekly rest period was reduced in the first week and his next driving period began on Sunday. The driver had to take a regular weekly rest period in the week that followed, whereas by Saturday morning, six 24-hour periods would pass. What can be done if the driver is scheduled for unloading on Friday and must be back at the base, which is 800 km away, on Sunday while he should begin his regular rest period on Saturday morning?
At first, I thought that nothing could be done, but after a deeper analysis and calculating the exact time needed to return to the base, I proposed using a reduced (24 h) rest period on Friday after unloading and before completing the six 24-hour periods. Doing so would allow the client to make use of the subsequent six 24-hour periods and give the driver a chance to reach the base, provided that his regular rest period would begin on Sunday.
How is it possible for this variant not to violate the law?
In this case, when considering the « week » billing period as time between 00.00 on Monday and 24.00 on Sunday, we adjusted to the provision stating that the driver shall use at least one regular weekly rest period and one reduced weekly rest period lasting at least 24 hours in two subsequent weeks, subject to the obligation that the rest be taken before the end of six 24-hour periods.
Thus, in the week that followed, the driver received two rest periods — one reduced and one regular which began on Sunday but counted in the second week. He also gained an additional driving period as a result. And all this in a perfectly legal manner.
Important information for coach drivers who undertake occasional international transport services!
Amendment to article 8 par. 6a of the Regulation 561/2006 EC – by way of derogation from paragraph 6, a driver engaged in a single occasional service of international carriage of passengers, as defined in Regulation (EC) No 1073/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international market for coach and bus services, (1) may postpone the weekly rest period for up to 12 consecutive 24-hour periods following a previous regular weekly rest period, provided that: (a) the service lasts at least 24 consecutive hours in a Member State or a third country to which this Regulation applies other than the one in which the service started; (b) the driver takes after the use of the derogation: (i) either two regular weekly rest periods; or (ii) one regular weekly rest period and one reduced weekly rest period of at least 24 hours. However, the reduction shall be compensated by an equivalent period of rest taken en bloc before the end of the third week following the end of the derogation period; c) after 1 January 2014, the vehicle is equipped with recording equipment in accordance with the requirements of Annex IB to Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85; and after 1 January 2014, if driving during the period from 22.00 to 06.00, the vehicle is multi-manned or the driving period referred to in Article 7 is reduced to three hours.