Prior to the new legal framework for drivers, effective working time only comprised time spent driving or carrying out other similarly active services. The general rules established in the Statute of Workers in relation to working time applied as follows: an annual average of 40 hours per week and 9 hours per day, unless otherwise provided by a collective bargaining agreement (subject to the minimum necessary requirement to include 12 hours of continuous rest).

New legislation

The new legislation defines ‘itinerant employees rendering road transportation services’ as drivers, assistants, collectors and other auxiliary personnel rendering services related to transportation and/or its passengers or load, employed by road transportation sector companies (whether urban or interurban) or by companies operating in other sectors that also carry out the aforementioned activities.

As regards effective working time, the concept now includes those periods of time when the employee cannot dispose freely of his/her time but is obliged to stay in or with the vehicle ready to perform his regular work including, in particular, loading and unloading for unlimited periods. Furthermore, periods other than breaks or pauses, during which the employee does not have to stay in or with the vehicle but has to be available to start or resume the services, shall be considered to be time on call.

In addition, the new working time limit for employees is, in general, 48 hours per week averaged over a 4-month period, with a maximum limit of 60 hours per week. Likewise, working days exceeding 6 consecutive hours shall include a break of at least 30 minutes, and if the working day exceeds 9 hours, at least 45 minutes - with further breaks of at least 15 minutes. Itinerant employees rendering driving services shall respect, in any event, the limits established in Regulation EC 561/2006. Time limit rules apply whether the employee renders services for one employer or for more than one.

Finally, this new legal framework provides that the employer must keep a record of all its employees’ working time.

Effect on employers

Companies will have to ensure that their timetables comply with the new time limits. Claims for working time infringement are likely to rise. Similarly, employers’ liability in cases of work accidents due to working time infringements is likely to increase.