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Changes to HGV driving and resting time brought in due to driver shortages

The derogation will see the maximum hours for HGV drivers increased to 112 hours in a two week period.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

A DEROGATION ON specific EU driving and resting regulations has been brought in for hauliers due to a driver shortage caused by the Omicron variant.

The temporary derogation was announced by the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport this evening, with it focusing on changes to driving and resting hours for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.

According to the RSA, the change is being brought in due to the impact of the Omicron variant on the haulage industry, as well as to protect supply chains.

Under the derogation, driving times will be relaxed, with the fortnightly driving limit being changed from 90 hours to 112 hours.

Due to this, all drivers will be entitled to drive for a maximum of 56 hours per week until the derogation expires on 30 Janurary. Daily working time remains unchanged.

The number of reduced daily rest periods that drivers can take between any two weekly rest periods is being increased from three to five. According to the RSA, this is to provide extra flexibility to drivers in case they encounter delays during their journeys.

The weekly rest rules are also being relaxed, with drivers now able to take a reduced weekly rest of at least 24 hours in each consecutive week.

Drivers will also not be obliged to take one regular weekly rest period, which is 45 consecutive hours, in a two week stretch until the derogation has expired.

In a statement this evening, Minister of State for Transport, Hildegarde Naughten said that the derogation is being granted to ensure that supply chains remain open.

“Crucially, these relaxation measures maintain a balance between driver welfare, operator flexibility, road safety and minimising disruption to supply chains,” said Naughten.

“These steps are being taken to ensure key supply chains for food and essential goods are kept open.”

The minister added that the derogation will be kept under a weekly review, and that the safety of drivers and other road users must not be compromised “at any stage”.

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There has been significant pressure on businesses in recent weeks due to the spread of the Omicron variant, with transport services like Irish Rail having to curtail services due to a lack of staff.

There is also set to be a change in isolation rules, with the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommending that isolation for close contacts who have no symptoms and are boosted be scrapped.

As well as this, isolation periods for people with symptoms and who test positive will be brought down to seven days across the board.

PCR tests for people who have tested positive with an antigen test are also to be scrapped, with a new portal for registering antigen tests set to be launched by the HSE this week.

Previously, in March 2020, a derogation on haulage driving and resting time was brought in by the RSA and Department of Transport.

The derogation lasted from 18 March until 16 April.

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