Super fast Eddie

A road transport lawyer has warned that a case that saw Stobart (Ireland) Driver Services, a division of Eddie Stobart Logistics, pay compensation to 21 drivers for alleged breaches to their weekly rest periods could have an effect on decisions made in the UK.

Drivers for the Dublin Port-based driver agency each received a payout of between €3,500 (£2,572) and €5,000 after they said they were not being given uninterrupted breaks between shifts. They claimed they were required to phone the company during rest periods to find out when their next shift began, often multiple times.

The Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), which acted on behalf of the drivers, claimed each call was an interruption of what is supposed to be an uninterrupted weekly rest break.

SIPTU confirmed to MT that it took the case to the Irish Labour Court and, subsequently, the Circuit Civil Court on 11 March, which enforced the former court’s decision to award compensation to the drivers.

Solicitor Lucy Whitaker of Pragma Law said that although the case was not dealt with in the UK, it could still have an impact on UK road transport law as it might have a persuasive effect on courts dealing with similar cases.

She said: “Employers in the whole of the UK should take note of the decision and, if appropriate, make changes to their practices.

“If the driver is effectively on standby, it’s arguable that the time spent at home is more like a period of availability than a proper rest.”

Adrian Jones, national officer for union Unite, told MT the case could have “wide-ranging impacts” on the UK haulage industry and urged operators to consider changing practices.

“Its common practice for drivers to call to find out their starting time,” said Jones. “Even if it’s for a couple of minutes, it is interrupting their rest [period].”

Stobart (Ireland) Driver Services declined to comment.