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Drivers Hours in the Great Outdoors

I’m not going to go into everything here but concentrate on the areas where ,in my own personal opinion, outdoor instructors tend to fall down.

Drivers Hours in the Great Outdoors

As I found from my last blog there is nothing quite like minibuses to get outdoor people talking!

Last time out it was all about license requirements, this time it is all about drivers hours – I.E. How long you can drive for before having a break, when you need to have a day off and more…

If you thought licenses were complicated, GET READY!

Typically when you work in the outdoors you drive minibuses in one of two situations;

  1. Limited Companies, Sole Traders, Partnerships – I.E. Profit Making
  2. Charity/Social Enterprise or School/College – I.E. Not for profit

This article is for people driving in the first situation.

In the outdoors most people are generally working within EU Drivers Hours.

I’m not going to go into everything here but concentrate on the areas where ,in my own personal opinion, outdoor instructors tend to fall down.

Time Off

You must have 45 hours of rest (I.e. time off) every week- around 2 days.  This can be reduced to 24 hours but in such circumstances compensatory time off must occur 3 weeks from this date.  So what does this mean?

You can’t be a freelancer work 14 days solid in June & July and then drive a minibus under EU law.  The responsibility lies both with the employer and individual.

Keeping things as simple as possible you need to have two days off a week.

Rest Periods/Taking Breaks

To make things even more complicated we are now going the consider both EU Drivers Hours and Working Time Directive (WTD)!

Scenario –  EU Drivers Hours

You pick up a school group in Southampton and drive to Wales for a DofE expedition, the expected journey time is 5 hours.

You can only drive for 4.5 hours before you need to take a 45 minute rest.  So make sure that you split your journey and take a rest of at least 45 minutes perhaps at a service station.

Scenario – Working Time Directive

You start work at 09:00 and take a group Climbing, the drive takes you 45 minutes, you then walk to the crag and run a climbing session for 3 hours.  You return to the bus and drive back to drop them off at 15:00.   The total work time if 6 hours.  Is this ok?  Yes or No?

The answer is yes.


Under the WTD you have the right to a break after 6 hours, 09:00 – 15:00 is 6 hours.  Any longer and staff need to be provided an opportunity to take a break.  Under EU Drivers Hours no rule has been broken – I.e. the driver has only driven for 1.5 hours and therefore a 45 minute break does not need to be taken under EU Drivers Hours law.


We hope this makes some sense, ultimately it’s very important that if you freelance and drive for hire and reward you understand this.  You would not run a climbing sessions for under 18s without being AALS licensed so why break the law through transport ignorance.

This article is in no way exhaustive and whilst written in good faith is certainly not to be interpreted as law.

11 February 2014 by TheBox

In the outdoors most people are generally working within EU Drivers Hours

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