Period of Availability (POA)
A Period of Availability (POA) is, essentially, waiting time known in advance. However, the elements that go to make up a POA and qualify as waiting time may be confusing as there are two critical elements to qualify:
Firstly, it must be known of in advance, either at the start of the driver’s departure or prior the start of the period of availability; Secondly, it must also include the duration of the waiting time.
What is a Period of Availability (POA)?
Under the regulations, a POA should satisfy the following criteria:
- A mobile worker should not be required to stay at his/her workstation
- He/she must be available to answer calls, resume work or start driving upon request
- The period of availability (and its duration) must be known to the mobile worker in advance, either before his/her departure or prior to the start of the period
There are circumstances that do not satisfy the criteria of a POA and subsequently do not count. These are effectively situations where the mobile worker has to continue working despite the fact that he/she has no control over the circumstances, such as:
- Where a driver is diverted due to road closure or accident, he/she would still be driving
- Delays due to congestion would also count as working time because the driver would be stopping and starting the vehicle
- If a mobile worker is monitoring a discharge from the vehicle (e.g. petrol at a filling station), this time will also count as working time
Workers and Availability
As long as the mobile worker is free to dispose of his/her time with a certain amount of freedom in much the same way that a break or rest period is taken, this would satisfy the criteria of a POA. Therefore if the workstation (drivers cab) offered this freedom, the POA can be taken at the workstation. However, if the mobile worker disposes of their time away from their workstation, they must be contactable at all times.
Where a mobile worker has to remain at his/her workstation due to reasons of safety or security, this would not disqualify the mobile worker from including this enforced wait as a POA, and therefore it can be included as such.
It must be noted here, that there are no requirements which dictate minimum or maximum lengths of POA's, as long as the period in question satisfied the criteria of a POA, regardless of length it will count as such.
Examples of what Qualifies as a POA
- When a mobile worker experiences a delay at a regional distribution centre or depot, waiting for someone to load or unload their vehicle; if they know about the length of the delay at the start of the period (because someone has told them; because they have arrived too early for their slot or because they always experience a delay at one of their regular customers).
- If a mobile worker typically experiences a 1-hour delay at one of their regular customers, then this would count as a POA. However, if they were to unexpectedly experience a 2-hour delay, then the second hour would count as working time. Unless the mobile worker was notified, before the end of the first hour, that a further hours delay was expected, in which case the second hour would also count as a POA.
- Where a mobile worker reports for work, are informed that they are not required to undertake any duties for a specified period (albeit, they need to remain on-site to answer calls and be ready to take up work), but is free to wait in the canteen or rest facility.
- If the vehicle breaks down and the mobile worker is told how long it will take to be rescued.
- Unless doing some other work (e.g. navigating), a relief driver who is travelling as a passenger would count this time as a period of availability. This time (or a part of it) could also be counted as a break but would need to be recorded as such.
- Traffic prohibitions that would count as a POA include, for example, where the police have delayed the movement of an abnormal load for a set period of time, or where vehicles are banned from city centres during specified hours, and the driver has to park the vehicle and wait.
Recording of a POA on a driver’s digital tachograph is simply a matter of selecting the correct mode switch – ‘BOX’.