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How many hours can sales representatives be allowed to drive in a day using their own vehicles?

Q: Is there any legislation or other guidelines about how many hours sales representatives should be allowed to drive in a day using their own vehicles?

For example, how many rest breaks should they take?

What is our liability if workers refuse to follow developed guidelines around safe driving hours for personal reasons, e.g. family commitments? Can workers be forced to seek overnight accommodation if their driving hours exceed the company’s guidelines?

Our sales representatives work in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

A: Although there are significant guidelines regarding the management of heavy vehicle drivers (i.e. vehicles with a gross vehicle mass greater than 4.5 tonnes) under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, unfortunately there is little legislative guidance on sales representatives driving their own vehicles for work purposes.

The Commercial Sales Award 2010 (the Award) provides that the ordinary hours of work must not exceed 10 hours on any given day. If the time spent driving and undertaking other work exceeds 10 hours, then it is likely that you will need to pay overtime in accordance with the Award. Unfortunately, the Award does not provide any further guidance on the issue of taking rest breaks in between driving hours.

In general, fatigue is a key risk area within the road transport industry and it is a requirement of all businesses to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that workers are not at risk of fatigue. This can be achieved by implementing systems and procedures that regulate the number of driving hours and scheduled rest breaks for workers.

Driving hours due to personal reasons would not fall within your responsibility as it is outside of your scope and duty of care. However, it would still be important to consider the cumulative effect of these hours in combination with a worker’s regular driving hours to assess whether further action needs to be taken, e.g. providing overnight accommodation or a taxi to take the worker home.

We recommend that you review chapters R2 Road Transport Worker Safety and F3 Fatigue Management.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Road transport worker safety and Fatigue for current advice.

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