Calais Crisis – Drivers on the front line

Tuesday 11th August 2015

The Calais migrant crisis has escalated over the summer with approximately 5,000 individuals seeking passage across the Channel hidden on, under or in UK-bound lorries.

One of the inevitable knock-on effects of the crisis on drivers and the businesses they work for is delay. This has financial consequences for the industry as a whole. There is also the question of how this relates to drivers’ Working Time. Drivers are subject to rules which regulate daily driving and duty limits, breaks and rests requirements.

At the end of July, the Department for Transport decided to temporarily relax the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules, rincreasing the driving limit from 9 hours to 11 hours and reducing the daily rest requirements, from 11 to 9 hours. However, the requirement to take a 45 minute break after 4½ hours driving remains.

This applies to drivers whose journeys are delayed by the disruption in Calais and applies for a period of 30 days from 30 July 2015. The relaxation is under constant review and updates are provided by Highways England.

Also, drivers now face on the spot fines of £2,000 for every person found hidden in their vehicle at any UK port and the Eurotunnel. In a situation where it is becoming increasingly difficult for drivers to properly secure their vehicles this does appear a harsh sanction. However, where firms receive accreditation from the Border Agency, they can avoid fines, even where stowaways are found on their vehicles.

So, all in all, it has been and continues to be a difficult summer for hauliers and their drivers in particular. Not only is the risk of financial consequences heightened, but there is the additional stress of longer hours and potentially intimidating situations.

We suggest that hauliers keep up to date with the Working Time developments and limit financial risk of fines by obtaining Border Agency accreditation. Also, of course, hauliers need to remain mindful of the stressful burden this is placing on the drivers themselves so that grievances are dealt with effectively and in accordance with proper process.

Click here to keep up to date with the Working Time Developments.

Click here for a link to the relevant Border Agency accreditation.