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Land Transport Rule: Work Time in Large Passenger Service Vehicles 2019

From 6 May 2019, the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018(external link) provides workers with minimum entitlements to rest and meal breaks. This means bus drivers are entitled to 10-minute breaks during their typical work day, in addition to the 30-minute breaks they already received.

Previously, 10-minute breaks were not commonly provided to bus drivers during their shift. To ensure drivers receive their full entitlements to breaks under the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 (the Act) and to avoid disruption to public services, a temporary Land Transport Rule has been drafted.

The Land Transport Rule: Work Time in Large Passenger Service Vehicles 2019 (the Rule) helps explain when drivers are expected to take breaks and what degree of flexibility operators have in providing these breaks. The Rule came into force on the 6 May 2019.

Questions and answers

  • What does the Rule do?

    The Work Time in Large Passenger Service Vehicles Rule prescribes times when drivers can be expected to take 10-minute breaks when there is no agreement between driver and employer. However, the Rule also allows for these breaks to be provided at earlier or delayed times if taking that break at prescribed time would cause a disruptive the impact to services.

    Disruptive impact means an impact on the ability of an operator (the employer) to provide scheduled bus services efficiently and safely. This could be the cancellation of a service or a service running behind schedule or late (referred to as material delay). If an operator needs to immediately purchase buses or hire other drivers to accommodate a 10-minute break and maintain service levels, this could also be considered a disruptive impact.

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  • What are examples of disruptive impact and material delay?

    Example 1

    Jerry is set to have a 10-minute break at 5:00pm, but Jerry’s scheduled trip does not finish until 6:00pm. If Jerry took his break at 5:00pm, services would be disrupted, and passengers would be delayed getting to their destination. To avoid this delay, Jerry continues his trip, drops off his passengers and take his 10-minute break when he reaches the end of his route at 6:00pm instead.

    Example 2

    Leia is scheduled to take her first 10-minute break at 8:30am each Monday. But this break is during peak travel time, and the bus operator she works for will need another driver on the road to ensure services are not disrupted when she takes her break. However, there are no other drivers or buses available, which is likely to cause a cancellation of service. This would be considered a disruptive impact as Leia would not be able to take her break unless the operator covered the break by hiring another driver and potentially purchasing another bus. To overcome this, Leia’s 10-minute break is taken at 9:45am when the peak period has died down.

    Example 3

    Han is rostered to take a 10-minute break at 1:00pm. However, Han’s last stop is at a local shopping centre where there is only one bus stop. If Han keeps his bus parked there while taking his break, then other buses will not be able to pick up or drop off passengers. This could be considered a disruptive impact as it is likely to disrupt other services and impact the safety of passengers. To overcome this, Han takes his break at 1:45pm at the end of his next route, where there is an appropriate place to stop and rest.

     

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  • When can disruptive impact and material delay not be applied?

    A prescribed break time cannot be delayed or provided earlier without a good reason. An operator must be able to justify why they are providing breaks at a different time and show that they have reached that decision after exploring other options. For example, if an employer delays a driver’s break by one hour, when it was possible for that driver’s break to be delayed by only 20-minutes, then that operator would be acting unreasonably.

    An operator must also act in good faith and show that they have tried to resolve issues that have made it difficult for drivers to take breaks. For example, if an operator is experiencing a shortage of drivers and is not making an active effort to recruit drivers, then that operator will not be able to classify driver shortage as a disruptive impact. Driver shortages could, however, be classified as a disruptive impact if an operator can show that they have actively tried to recruit drivers but have struggled to hire enough for operation.

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  • What if I am happy to take 10-minute breaks when required?

    10-minute breaks can be taken whenever works best for both parties if they can reach an agreement. For example, if an employer and driver agree to all 10-minute breaks being taken adjacent to their 30-minute meal break (one unpaid 30-minute break, followed by one paid 10-minute break), then this is reasonable. The Rule only applies in situations where drivers and employers cannot come to an agreement.

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  • How long will the Rule be in place?

    The Rule is a short-term measure to help bus drivers take 10-minute breaks in a safe and efficient way without disrupting the delivery of public transport. It provides a transitional period for the industry to adjust to the changes introduced by the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018. The Rule will expire 12 months after commencement.

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