When does Labour Code not apply to truck drivers?
In the summer, an amendment to the Road Transport Act entered into effect, as a result of which certain provisions of the Labour Code shall not apply to drivers in international road transport from 1 August 2022. The amendment thus restricts certain labour-law standards for drivers who have been posted by their employers from another EU member state to the Czech Republic.
The provisions of the Labour Code will not apply to drivers posted by their employer (a carrier established in another member state) to perform work within the framework of the transnational provision of services in the territory of the Czech Republic. Similar regulation should also be adopted by the other EU member states to avoid a disproportionate administrative burden for road transport operators.
As a result of the amendment, Section 319 of the Labour Code, i.e., provisions concerning minimum vacation, maximum working hours, and minimum wages under the Labour Code shall not apply to drivers. Carriers whose drivers perform one of the defined types of transport may not apply this section. Specifically, the exemption from the Labour Code shall apply if the driver performs exclusively bilateral road freight transport for hire or reward purposes, or regular, occasional passenger, or international shuttle transport. Bilateral road transport means that the point of departure and the point of destination/arrival are situated in two states, in one of which the carrier is established. Other states through which the driver passes are only transit states. Thus, the provision shall not apply, e.g., when a carrier providing occasional passenger transport makes local excursions in the territory of a state other than that in which it is established.
Bilateral transportation also covers transportation with additional activities, i.e., where the Czech Republic is not the point of departure or arrival, and yet loading or unloading of freight or picking up or setting down passengers takes place here. It is considered additional activity if the carrier performs one such activity during the freight transport to the final destination. Or, if no such activity was carried out on the way to the final destination, two activities are carried out when returning to the point of departure (i.e., the carrier may, e.g., carry out two unloading operations on the return journey). However, this exemption has a time limit until 20 August 2023. From that date, only drivers whose vehicles are equipped with smart tachographs will be able to carry out additional activities.
The Czech Labour Code will continue to apply to drivers who carry out cabotage, i.e., where the drivers transport animals, goods, or persons within the state to which they were posted or between two states in none of which they are not established. In such a situation, the conditions concerning, e.g., the minimum time of rest shall apply in the same way as to employees of Czech employers.
The observance of the rules will be checked by the Police of the Czech Republic, who may require the drivers to submit a document proving they perform transport under the international road transport scheme, and a record of time driven, safety breaks, and rest periods.