Self-employed must obey drivers’ working time rules

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The European Parliament has voted down a European Commission plan to exempt self-employed drivers from the 2002 Working Time Directive.

Self-employed drivers were temporarily exempted from the rules of the existing EU directive on drivers’ working hours but were due to come under those rules by 23rd March 2009 unless the European Commission proposed legislation to the contrary.

The commission did that in October 2008, seeking to exempt them permanently.

There were two main votes at the European parliament meeting in Strasbourg on 17th June.

First, MEPs voted to confirm the vote of the parliament’s employment committee rejecting the commission proposal by 368 votes to 301, with 8 abstentions.

A formal vote on the proposed changes to the directive then saw overall rejection by 383 votes to 263 (with 23 abstentions).

As a result, self-employed drivers will be subject to the same rules as employed drivers on loading and unloading, assistance to passengers, cleaning and maintenance, and police and customs formalities.

Current EU law on employed drivers lays down an average limit of 48 hours a week, which can rise to 60 hours a week provided it does not exceed the average of 48 hours a week over a four-month period.

Rejection of the commission’s proposal means that Directive 2002/15/CE remains in force and member states will now have to come into line and implement the rules for self-employed drivers.

No time frame has yet been agreed for implementation. It will be up to the Commission ensure that member states comply with the directive.

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