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Drivers' Hours (Derogation for Reservists)

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

I am today announcing that I have written to the European Commission requesting an exemption from Regulation (EC) 561/2006 on drivers' hours for professional drivers when undertaking military training with the volunteer reserve forces or acting as instructors in the cadet corps at the weekend. This request, which has been agreed with the Ministry of Defence, has been made in accordance with the provisions in Article 14.1 of Regulation (EC) 561/2006 which provide for exceptions in exceptional circumstances.

I have specifically asked that the exemption apply to the weekly rest requirements in Article 8.6. This would enable a driver who finishes his normal driving duties on a Friday to complete a 36 hour period of training as a volunteer reservist or as an instructor in the cadet corps during the weekend and then resume his normal driving duties again on a Monday morning.

To ensure that these drivers are adequately rested before they return to their normal driving duties, I have stipulated that the drivers would still be required to take at least nine consecutive hours rest (the equivalent of a reduced daily rest period) between the end of their military training or duties as an instructor and start of work for their regular employer. I do not consider this to be unduly onerous given that this is already common practice within the volunteer reserve forces.

I am satisfied that such an exemption will not in any way jeopardise the objectives of Regulation (EC) 561/2006. But it may take some time for the European Commission to respond to my request. So in the interim, the Ministry of Defence has developed guidelines that outline how drivers can manage their volunteer reserve service in accordance with Regulation (EC) 561/2006.