As has already been discussed on this forum, a new European Union Regulation on driversâ hours, effective from 11 April 2007, will impact upon certain members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces who are drivers in their civilian employment. We hope that the following information helps to clarify the current situation. The new rules are contained in âEU Regulation number 561/2006â which revises existing EU driversâ hours legislation. A copy of the new EU Regulation is available from the Department for Transport website (www.dft.gov.uk). WHO WILL THE NEW RULES APPLY TO? The new rules apply to âvocational driversâ â which means almost exclusively drivers of vehicles that require tachographs. They do not apply to other drivers (for example, drivers of cars or small vans). The changes will not affect Reservists who are drivers in the Reserve Forces but are not vocational drivers in their civilian employment. The key issue for the Reserve Forces is that Reservists who are vocational drivers in their civilian employment are required to take rest periods and that any time on duty with the Reserve Forces (whether undertaking driving or any other type of activity) does not count as rest time. Full information on driversâ hours rules is available from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (www.vosa.gov.uk) but the rules generally apply to vehicles with a Maximum Authorised Mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes or with the ability to carry 10 passengers including the driver. HOW MUCH REST WILL VOCATIONAL DRIVERS HAVE TO TAKE? The Regulation reinforces the requirement for vocational drivers to take minimum periods of continuous rest on a daily and weekly basis. In summary the requirement is for: a. Daily Rest. The daily rest requirement is for 11 hours continuous rest; this can be reduced to 9 hours in any one day, but only on 3 occasions in any one week. This should not prevent Reservists from attending training evenings. b. Weekly Rest. The weekly rest requirement is for an average of 45 hours of continuous rest. This can be reduced to 24 hours, providing that the 21 hours lost are made up within the following 21 days in a single block attached to another period of rest. It is this that clashes with Reservist weekend training. WHAT SHOULD AFFECTED EMPLOYERS AND RESERVISTS DO NEXT? Reservists who are vocational drivers in their civilian employment and their employers should discuss this issue as soon as possible, with the aim of agreeing a way forward which enables both the employer to comply with the Regulation and the employee to continue to serve with the Reserve Forces. Sources of information and advice to prepare for that discussion are listed below. The main options open to discussion should be for the Reservist employee: a. to move to another role which is not covered by the EU drivers' hours rules, for the same employer; b. obtain the required rest by taking unpaid leave (for example, to take a Monday after a training weekend off) which could be additional unpaid leave specifically for this purpose; c. obtain the required rest by taking time out of their annual holiday requirement. If an agreement cannot be reached between the Reservist and the employer, the only alternatives are for the Reservist to move to a new employer (either in a role not covered by the EU drivers' hours rules or to an employer which provides additional time off) or to leave the Reserve Forces. Reservists who drive for their civilian employers but are not âvocational driversâ as described above should be clear that these changes do not affect them. ARE THE RESERVE FORCES MAKING ANY CHANGES TO HELP? The Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport are exploring the scope for an exemption from some elements of the legislation. However, even if possible, any exemption will take 12 to 18 months to come into effect and in the interim all Reservists will be required to comply with the Regulation as it currently stands. The MOD is also reviewing Reserve Forcesâ training and work patterns to identify any opportunities for adjustments which could help accommodate vocational drivers who are also Reservists. Further guidance will be issued to Units through the chain-of-command as soon as possible. However, there is limited scope for change and vocational drivers who undertake a full weekâs driving Monday to Friday will not be able to commit to a full weekendâs Reservist training unless they can take additional time off to rest. In addition, SaBRE is working with employers to explain the MODâs position to employers and to encourage them to assist those affected by the Regulation to continue to serve in the Reserve Forces. WHERE CAN I GO FOR MORE INFORMATION AND ADVICE? Employers should contact SaBRE â either directly at a national level or one of SaBREâs Regional Directors. Contact details for the Regional Directors can be found on SaBREâs website (www.sabre.mod.uk) along with a range of information about this and other issues relating to the employment of members of the Reserve Forces. Reservists should, in the first instance, speak to their chain-of-command or their Unitâs Employer Support Officer / Regimental Operations Support Officer. The UESO / ROSO has access to further assistance if required. SaBREâs helpline (0800 389 5459) is also available to both employers and Reservists to provide general information and advice but detailed queries on specific cases will be referred to Units or to SaBREâs Regional Directors. Any information SaBRE obtains about the position being adopted by major employers of vocational drivers will be available through the helpline.