Counting time

Legislation requires that work time and rest time be counted in a certain way. Understanding the rules for counting time will help drivers manage work and rest times and assist other responsible parties in the supply chain comply with their duties to manage work and rest time and prevent driver fatigue.

What is work time?

Work time includes all tasks to do with the operation of the fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle. Driving is obviously work time, but work time also includes tasks such as:

  • loading and unloading the vehicle
  • inspecting, servicing or repair work
  • attending to the load or to passengers (on a bus)
  • cleaning or refuelling the vehicle
  • instructing or supervising another person including learning to drive a heavy vehicle, learning a new route, making deliveries etc.
  • recording information or completing a document (for example your work diary).

It doesn’t matter if the tasks occur on private property or on a road or road related area, they are still classified as work.

What is rest time?

Rest time is all time that is not work time.

Rules for counting time

Time is always counted from the end of a rest break. The legislation requires that:

  • time periods are always counted forward from the end of a rest break
  • time periods of 24 hours or longer must be counted forward from the end of a ‘relevant major rest break.’

This information will help you understand how to count work and rest hours in different periods of time.

Periods less than 24 hours

Periods of less than 24 hours must be counted forward from the end of any period of rest time. This method is used to ensure compliance with short rest break requirements (e.g. standard hours solo driver offence of working more than seven hours 30 minutes in a period of eight hours).

24-hour periods

Periods of 24 hours must be counted forward from the end of a ‘relevant major rest break’.   When applied to a 24 hour period a ‘relevant major rest break’ is the longest continuous rest break required for your hours option. You must start counting 24 hour periods from the end of that break.

For example, you must start counting 24 hour periods from:

  • Standard Hours solo – the end of a rest break of seven or more continuous hours
  • Standard Hours two-up – the end of a rest break of five or more continuous hours
  • Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) Hours solo – the end of a rest break of seven or more continuous hours (or at the end of a rest break of six continuous hours if a ‘split rest break’ has been taken)
  • BFM Hours two-up – 24 hour periods can be counted forward from the end of any rest break because this option does not require a ‘major rest break’ in a 24 hour period
  • Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) Hours – the end of a rest period defined as the relevant major rest break on the AFM  certificate.

Important notes

You must count work and rest time for the whole 24 hour period following the end of a relevant major rest break. If you take another (subsequent) relevant major rest break during that 24 hour period, it does not reset the 24 hour period and you must continue counting work time for that 24 hour period after the break. You must count all work time before and after the subsequent relevant major rest break in that 24 hour period.

For example, if on a day you started working at 6am and worked:

  • 5¼ hrs (6–11.15am) then took a 15-minute break
  • 2¼ hrs (11.30am–1.45pm) and took a 90-minute break
  • 4½ hrs (3.15–7.45pm) then took a seven-hour major rest break.

You have completed the maximum 12 hours work time in any 24 hour period at 7.45pm and may not commence working again until 6am on the next day because that is when the 24 hour period you are counting finishes.

What if a driver doesn’t take the legally required rest break?

If a driver does not take the longest continuous rest break required under their hours option, the 24 hour period may be counted from the last relevant major rest break.

Periods of seven, 14 and 28 days

Periods of seven days or longer can be counted forward from the end of any ‘relevant major rest break’.

The relevant major rest break for a period of seven or more days may be either:

  • a 24 continuous hours rest period
  • a rest break of at least seven continuous hours of stationary rest time for two-up drivers
  • a night rest break of seven continuous hours stationary rest time (taken between 10pm on a day and 8am on the next day) for drivers of buses and coaches.

For example:

  • For a 24 continuous hours rest period, count forward from the end of a previous 24 continuous hours rest period.
  • To check if you comply with night rest requirements, count forward from the end of a previous night rest.

Rules for recording time in different time zones

The legislation requires that all periods of time (work time and rest time) must be counted in 15 minute blocks relative to the time zone of your base. So, for example, if you are based in Queensland and you drive into NSW during daylight savings time, you record your work and rest hours in Queensland time.

Work time is rounded up

Work time limits are maximum limits, so work time is always rounded up to the next 15 minute interval. For example:

  • 10 minutes work is counted as 15 minutes of work time
  • 40 minutes work is counted as 45 minutes of work time
  • 2 hours and 21 minutes work is counted as 2 hours and 30 minutes of work time.

Rest time is rounded down

Rest time limits are minimum limits, so rest time is always rounded down to the last 15 minute interval. For example:

  • 12 minutes rest does not count as rest time.
  • rest between 30 minutes and 44 minutes is counted as 30 minutes rest time
  • 6 hours and 40 minutes rest is counted as six hours and 30 minutes of rest time.

Changing time zones

Drivers travelling outside their normal time zone should ensure that they schedule their ‘night rests’ according to the time zone of their base.

BFM Hours solo drivers must calculate ‘long and night hours’ according to the time zone of their base.