Compliance and record-keeping

What’s it all about?

Truck operators are legally required to comply with drivers’ hours rules and the working time rules incorporated in the UK in The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003 and The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005.

Firms are also legally required to keep certain records to prove that compliance. The requirements for compliance and record keeping vary between UK domestic drivers’ hours rules, EU drivers hours rules and the two applicable sets of working time rules.

In the case of EU drivers’ hours, compliance is currently further complicated by the fact that the rules changed on 11th April 2007 when the Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 took effect.

What records are required for UK domestic drivers’ hours rules?

Under the Drivers’ Hours (Keeping of Records) Regulations 1987, not all operators are required to hold written records but where they are, drivers must use written log books or tachograph records to demonstrate compliance with the domestic hours rules.

Log books should include the employer’s name and operating licence details, some instructions on the use of the book itself, the driver’s details, the date the book was first used, the date the book was last used and should also contain weekly sheets and duplicates showing each day’s driving activities.

Drivers must complete weekly sheets and employers must sign each completed sheet, detach the duplicate and then return the book to the driver. Completed books must be kept by the driver for 14 days after the employer has signed the last sheet, then returned to the employer who must keep them for a further period of 12 months.

When do written records NOT need to be kept under domestic drivers’ hours rules?

Written records do not need to be kept to prove compliance with domestic drivers’ hours rules if:

  • The vehicle being driven on a particular day is not in scope of operator licensing.
  • The vehicle being driven is in scope of operator licensing but the driver doesn’t drive for more than four hours on the day in question and also does not drive outside a 100km radius of the vehicle’s operating centre on the day.
  • Full tachograph records are kept in accordance with all legal tachograph requirements instead.

What records are required for EU drivers’ hours rules?

Under EU hours rules most large goods vehicles must be fitted with an approved tachograph and drivers must use that tachograph to record their daily driving activities.

When using an analogue tachograph, drivers must enter all their details on the chart including:

  • Name
  • Vehicle registration
  • Date and place where the driving record begins and ends
  • Time of any change of vehicle
  • Relevant odometer readings

Drivers must keep the current week’s tachograph charts and those for the previous 28 calender days but should return charts to their employer within 42 days of completion. Employers should keep all charts for at least a year after their use.

More guidance on drivers’ hours rules and tachograph usage.

More information about digital tachographs.

What records are required to prove working time compliance?

In terms of compliance with the main working time rules as required by the Horizontal Amending Directive (see The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2003), employers must keep records to show that:

  • weekly working time and night work limits have been complied with
  • regular health assessments have been offered to night workers

You also need to keep an up-to-date record of workers who have ‘opted out’ of the 48-hour average weekly limit. However you do NOT need to record how many hours such workers actually work.

More information about general working time records.

In terms of the requirements of the Road Transport Directive as implemented in The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005, working time records must be kept by the employer for two years after the period in question.

The regulations do not specify exactly what records should be kept, but the records kept will need to demonstrate that weekly working time and night work limits have been observed.

Employers must also keep a record of any relevant agreement they may have with employees about night work limits.

Points to Ponder

Employers must organise drivers’ work in such a way that they are in compliance with the EU drivers’ hours rules and must issue drivers with sufficient tachograph charts and/or digital tachograph printer rolls to record their activities properly.

They must also be able to show proper procedures for monitoring drivers’ tachograph records and taking action if the rules are broken. Note that failing to check drivers’ tachograph records may be regarded as ‘permitting’ hours offences and that causing or permitting breaches of the drivers’ hours rules is, in itself, an offence.

Drivers’ hours rules only require tachograph records to be kept for a year, while working time rules require records to be kept for two years. Thus, firms who choose to use tachographs as a contributory source of data for working time compliance must remember to keep their tachograph records for a period of two years after the working period in question.

Updated by Lucy Wood & Anton Balkitis
Freephone: 0800 046 3066

O-licence responsibilities and the CPC

What standards must I meet to get an O-licence?

O-licence applicants must sign a declaration confirming they will comply with certain obligations to be given an O-licence and must continue to maintain standards to keep an O-licence once they have it.These include being a fit person to hold a licence; making proper maintenance arrangements for vehicles; controlling drivers’ hours, records and loading; running a suitable depot (known as the operating centre); having adequate financial resources and, for standard national and international licences, possessing the necessary professional competence qualifications. For full details see the Goods Vehicle Operator Licensing guide for operators.

Are the requirements the same for all types of O-licence?

No, there are more regulations for national and international licence holders than there are for restricted licence holders. National and international licence holders must show that they are of good repute, meet professional competence requirements and satisfy more rigorous financial criteria. However, in reality the traffic commissioner (TC) will generally want to see a certain standard of operation and understanding of the rules regardless of the type of licence held.

How are fitness and good repute decided?

For fitness to hold a licence, which applies to all licence applicants, TCs will look at any previous vehicle-related convictions: these include defective vehicle offences, drivers' hours breaches, speeding and other motoring offences, overloading or any convictions relating to vehicle testing or plating.

In deciding good repute, which applies to all standard licence applicants but not to those applying for restricted licences, all the offences above – as well as any other convictions in the UK or abroad – are considered by the TCs. It is a legal requirement to declare all convictions to your TC within 28 days of the date of conviction.

What are the vehicle maintenance requirements?

Vehicle maintenance is one of the main objectives of the operator licensing system.

You must keep your vehicles roadworthy and if you do not do the maintenance yourself the TC will want to see a written agreement with the garage that does your maintenance. For further details see the DVSA's Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness.

Is there any way of finding out how compliant I am compared with other operators?

In addition it is also possible to obtain the operator’s Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS). OCRS is calculated using two methods which give a historic or predictive score. Historic data includes annual test data, roadside inspections, fleet check inspections and prosecution history. Predictive scores are only used if no historic data exists and is therefore based on the type of operator licence, age of operator licence and size of fleet. The idea is that DVSA use the system at the roadside to identify which vehicles should be checked. Those with the worst scores will be targeted by DVSA as they are more likely to be non-compliant.

To obtain their OCRS, operators should register with their operator licence number, business name, address and email as well as a name and confirmation that they are authorised to receive the information on the DVSA website. There are 4 types of report available which the operator can request to have sent to them on a quarterly basis. The 4 types of report are OCRS, Vehicle Test Maintenance Statement relating to test failure items, Vehicle Encounter Report including roadside and fleet checks, National Vehicle Defects Report stating the percentage failure rate for all defect items. Receiving these reports is obviously an excellent way to monitor your compliance compared with operators.

What are the financial requirements?

For all licences, you will need to show that you have enough money readily available to keep your vehicles fit for the road. This is known as having financial standing. You will also need to declare any recent financial difficulties, such as bankruptcy, liquidation, insolvency or any disqualification in business.

Requirements for standard national and international licences are again more rigorous than for restricted licences. At present (as of 1 January 2016) a standard national or international operator is required to show £6650 for the first vehicle and £3700 for any additional vehicles. A restricted operator is only required to demonstrate that £3100 is available for the first vehicle and £1700 is available for each additional vehicle. It is the number of vehicles you are authorised for rather than the number of vehicles in possession which is used for the calculation. Full details are again available on the DVSA website.

Do I need a professional qualification?

If you want a standard national or international licence you probably will. The main way of establishing competence is passing the Certificate of Professional Competence Exam (CPC). However there are two alternatives: one is another of the recognised qualifications, and the other is if you have “grandfather rights”, for which you will need to have been in operation before 1 January 1975. If you do not already hold a grandfather rights certificate you cannot now claim one.

If you are running on a restricted licence, then no qualification is required. It is however advisable to read up on your obligations, to consider enrolling on a course and to attend a few seminars to ensure you understand what is required of you.


Updated by Lucy Wood & Anton Balkitis
Freephone: 0800 046 3066