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Work-time and logbook requirements

There are restrictions placed on how long the driver of a commercial or heavy motor vehicle may work before taking rest. Restricting work time helps reduce the risk of fatigue in drivers of commercial and heavy motor vehicles.

Read more about fatigue

Who do work-time rules apply to?

The work time rules apply to everyone who is legally required to manage driving hours, including both drivers and transport operators. The rules apply to you if you drive or operate a vehicle that:

  • requires a class 2, 3, 4 or 5 driver licence, or

  • is driven or operated in a transport service (other than a rental service), or

  • is used in circumstances in which the vehicle must, or ought to be operated under a transport service licence, or

  • is used to carry goods for hire or reward.

Work time requirements do not apply to the driver of a goods service vehicle that requires a class 1 or 2 driver licence and:

  • is used within a 50km radius of the vehicles normal base of operation and

  • is not used for hire or reward.

What are the work-time and rest requirements?

Work time includes all time spent working regardless of whether it is time spent driving or doing other work.

In general, drivers must take a break of at least 30 minutes after 5½ hours of work time, no matter what type of work takes place during that period.

In any cumulative work day you can work a maximum of 13 hours and then you must take a continuous break of at least 10 hours (as well as the standard half-hour breaks every 5½ hours). 

A cumulative work day is a period during which work occurs, and that:

  • does not exceed 24 hours, and

  • begins after a continuous period of rest time of at least 10 hours.

You can accumulate a total of 70 hours work time (known as a ‘cumulative work period’) before you must take a continuous break of at least 24 hours.

What does work time include?

Work time includes both driving and all other work-related activities subject to the work time rules. For example, it includes:

  • driving

  • loading and unloading

  • maintenance and cleaning of vehicles

  • administration

  • any paid employment whether or not related to transport activities

  • cruising for hire

  • time on the small passenger service vehicle stand waiting for a fare.

Rest time means all time that is not work time, is at least 30 minutes long, and is not spent in a moving work vehicle.

Special work-time conditions

Small passenger service (SPS)* drivers 

Small passenger service drivers can work for seven hours of continuous work time and then take a rest, provided they have only undertaken short fares around a city or town. A short fare means a single fare where the distance between pick-up and set down is less than 100km. This recognises that there can be a number of shorter breaks between fares.

Where a driver completes a fare outside 100km or the driver undertakes driving in a vehicle other than a small passenger service vehicle subject to work time requirements, the driver may only drive for a maximum of five and a half (5½) hours before having to take a rest break of at least 30 minutes.

Rest breaks must be uninterrupted by work activities. For example, you cannot refuel your vehicle, do paperwork, manage bookings, or carry out any other work related duty during a rest break.

*a small passenger service vehicle is any passenger service vehicle that is designed or adapted to carry 12 persons or less,  including the driver.

Ferries

Scheduled ferry trips of more than one hour may count as a rest break (including time spent in the vehicle during sailing). The driver must record the actual departure and arrival times of the ferry when recording the rest break.

At the end of the sailing the driver may drive to a place of storage or safe parking even if the work time hours would be exceeded, provided that any additional work time does not exceed 60 minutes and a 10-hour rest break is taken immediately.

Mixed driving

If you drive a small passenger service vehicle and another class of vehicle that is subject to work time requirements in a cumulative work day, then you must take a rest break after 5½ hours of continuous work time.

Short-term variations

If your work requires you to exceed normal work time limits to meet short-term business needs, a transport service operator, a person who employs drivers subject to work time requirements, or the organiser of a public display or event can apply to the NZ Transport Agency for a short-term variation to either allowable work time or required rest breaks. However, your cumulative work period must not exceed 70 hours.

Short term variations cannot be approved for more than 14 days in total and must be applied for before it is needed.

Tour buses

Tour bus operators can apply to the Transport Agency for variations to work-time requirements if their tour involves taking a group of tourists on a defined schedule on a predetermined route that takes more than 24 hours to complete. Scheduled meal breaks of at least 30 minutes must be included in the tour plan.

Critical agricultural operations

A person who is in business as a farmer or an agricultural contractor may apply to the Transport Agency for a variation of allowable work time or required rest breaks for the purpose of a critical agricultural operation.

A critical agricultural operation means work required for an agricultural purpose that must be completed urgently to avoid the adverse impact of a biological event, including a natural process such as a crop becoming ready for harvesting or a change in weather conditions.

Variations may not be applied for after the event, will apply for a maximum period of 12 months and will be subject to specific conditions.

Drivers of emergency and essential services

If you drive an emergency service vehicle or work for a principal rural fire officer, and you are asked to work beyond standard work time limits, your dispatcher must consider alternatives, such as the availability of other drivers, before requesting you continue to work. After the call-out, you can return the vehicle to the emergency base and drive home, but must then take your required break.

Essential service drivers can extend their work-time hours if requested by a manager of the relevant authority to restore essential services. Essential service drivers include drivers who work for road controlling authorities, territorial authorities, organisations that supply natural gas or electricity and people working on emergency works to stabilise land or reduce risk to property. You will need to record the details in your logbook.

What are the penalties for breaching work-time requirements?

A breach of work-time rules is serious. If convicted, a driver can be fined up to $2000 for each breach. In addition, you will be disqualified from driving, possibly from all licence classes, for at least one month.

If you employ a driver who breaches work- or rest-time limits and you're held responsible for this, you could be fined up to $25,000 upon conviction. This is known as the chain of responsibility.

Read more about the chain of responsibility

What is a logbook?

Logbooks are a written record of your work-time hours. They provide a record of your work activity and enable enforcement officers to check compliance with the work-time rules.

If you are required to complete a logbook, you must record all your work and rest times in a logbook approved by the Transport Agency. Note that you can only maintain one logbook at a time.

You must produce your logbook to an enforcement officer to inspect, if requested, starting from the last 24-hour rest time up to the present time. An enforcement officer is entitled to remove pages from your logbook, and most logbooks contain a special duplicate or triplicate copy for this purpose.

You must keep any completed logbook for 12 months after the date of the last entry.

Electronic logbooks

The Transport Agency has the authority to approve alternative means of recording work-time hours, and has approved a number of electronic logbooks.

Find out more about electronic logbooks

Who is required to fill in a logbook?

Logbooks must be completed if you drive a vehicle that:

  • requires a class 2, 3, 4 or 5 driver licence, or

  • is used in a transport service (other than a rental service), or

  • is used in circumstances in which the vehicle must, or ought to be operated under a transport service licence, or

  • is used to carry goods for hire or reward if that vehicle is a heavy motor vehicle.

Logbook exemptions

Some sectors of the commercial transport industry are exempt from keeping logbooks. Exemptions from keeping logbooks however do not exempt drivers from complying with the work-time requirements.

You don't need to keep a logbook if you drive:

  • for the New Zealand Defence Force, the New Zealand Police, an ambulance service or the New Zealand Fire Service
  • certain services or types of vehicles, eg:
    • farm vehicles – provided they are only driven within a 50km radius of the farm and are used for work that is directly related to the management of the farm, or for transporting farming equipment or stock
    • agricultural motor vehicles (this does not include any vehicle that is designed or constructed for general road use)
    • motor homes
    • recreational vehicles that would require a class 2 driver licence
    • mobile cranes
    • vintage heavy vehicles – manufactured at least 40 years ago and no longer in commercial use
    • special-type vehicles that require a class 1 or 2 driver licence (eg forklifts and rollers)
    • special-purpose roadside maintenance vehicles (requiring a class 1 or 2 driver licence)
  • goods service vehicles or heavy motor vehicles used to carry goods that require a class 1 or 2 driver licence and are used within a 50km radius of their base
  • vehicle recovery service vehicles, provided your keep tow authorities as a record of work hours
  • urban buses, provided your regular roster meets certain requirements
  • school buses.

Keeping a logbook

If you are subject to the work time limits (and are required to complete a logbook), you must record all your work and rest times in a logbook approved by the Transport Agency (you can only maintain 1 logbook at a time).

The logbook provides a record of your work activity and enables enforcement officers to check compliance with the work time rules. You must produce your logbook to an enforcement officer to inspect, if requested, starting from the last 24-hour rest time up to the present time. An enforcement officer is entitled to remove pages from your logbook, and most logbooks contain a special duplicate or triplicate copy for this purpose.

You must keep any completed logbook for 12 months after the date of the last entry.

How do I use a logbook?

You must fill out the following information in your logbook:

  • your name (initials and surname, or first and last name)

  • the date the logbook page starts on

  • the time of day your logbook page starts (times must be recorded either in the am/pm or 24 hour format)

  • the registration number of each vehicle driven

  • the start and finish distance recorder readings (if the vehicle is subject to road user charges)

  • the start and finish times and location for all work-time hours

  • the start and finish times for all your rest breaks and where you took them.

You must also note your name or unique identifier on the space provided on the cover of the logbook. If you are using an approved general logbook form, you must also complete the activity grid.

Recording days off

The logbook entries that you record are required to be a continuous record of your work and rest time between one 24-hour break and the next (the cumulative work period of up to 70 hours). After taking any days off, you must record the dates of the days off in your logbook on the first day back at work.

Record-keeping

An employed driver must remove the ‘record’ (employer) copy of each page and hand it to their employer at the end of a cumulative work period, or within 14 days of the record being made (whichever comes first).

If you employ drivers, or are an owner-operator, you are also required to keep fuel and accommodation receipts that can be produced on demand by an enforcement officer. You are also required to keep a range of employment records.

What do I do if I have an unavoidable delay?

If you experience an unavoidable delay or emergency that causes, or is likely to cause, you to exceed the work-time limits for a cumulative work day or cumulative work period, you need to note the event and the length of the delay in your logbook. 

Logbook offences

Demerit points (against your driver licence) and instant fines apply to some logbook offences.

OffencePenalty
Infringement fee Demerit points
Produced a logbook on demand with 1–5 omissions $150 10
Produced a logbook on demand with 6–10 omissions $300 20
Produced a logbook on demand with 11 or more omissions $500 30
Failed to produce a logbook $500 35

Where can I find out more?

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