As part of its Mobility Package, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Regulation amending the minimum requirements on maximum daily and weekly driving times, minimum breaks and daily and weekly rest periods and on the use of tachographs (Regulation (EU) 2020/1054 of 15 July 2020 amending Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and Regulation (EU) No 165/2014, the ‘Regulation’). This Regulation took effect from 21 September 2020.
New rules for weekly rest periods of posted workers in road transport
The Regulation has established that regular weekly rest periods and any weekly rest period of more than 45 hours taken in compensation for previous reduced weekly rest periods must not be taken in a vehicle. They must be taken in suitable gender-friendly accommodation with adequate sleeping and sanitary facilities. Any costs for accommodation outside the vehicle shall be covered by the employer. Furthermore, the new Regulation is applied from 21 September 2020 and there was no transitional period for implementation of the new rules provided.
The EU Commission ordered an analysis of the ‘Study on Safe and Secure Parking Places for Trucks’, which was published in 2019, and has found that there were too few secure parking areas in Europe and that vehicle drivers were regularly obliged to use non-secure parking locations for overnight stops, which in turn makes them relatively easy targets for criminals, putting drivers and cargo at risk.
The analysis did not inquire into the demand and availability of parking places which would be suitable and would have the infrastructure for weekly rest periods of drivers. It is clear that these types of parking places are lacking and therefore not all carriers are able to implement this requirement.
New obligation for carriers to return employees home
The Regulation obliges carriers to organise the work of drivers in such a way that the drivers would be able to return to the employer’s operational centre where the driver is normally based and where the driver’s weekly rest period begins, in the Member State where the employer is established, or to return to the drivers’ place of residence, within each period of four consecutive weeks. This enables drivers to spend at least one regular weekly rest period or a weekly rest period of more than 45 hours taken in compensation for reduced weekly rest period at home.
It is not clear whether it is mandatory for the carrier to return its employees to the place of residence (or to the carrier’s operational centre) every four weeks. It is also not clear which place should be considered the ‘drivers’ place of residence’.
In my opinion, this Regulation should be considered as establishing the right of a driver to return home every four weeks for the weekly rest period, but it should not be considered as mandatory for drivers to return from posting, i.e. drivers have discretion over whether to use this right. Furthermore, the employer has no right to decide where the driver has his or her ‘place of residence’, because the employee could have a temporary place of residence for the period of posting.
In conclusion, the new Regulation changes very important rules of how carriage of goods and posting of employees are organised and carriers will need to adopt effective measures to implement the new requirements.