Thursday, May 26, 2016

UK Road Haulage Firms Must Check Driver Status to Satisfy the Authorities

Self-Employment, Tachograph Cards and Licences Are All Issues to Watch
Shipping News Feature
UK – The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has expressed concern at the number of drivers believed to be claiming self-employment status when they are in fact working full time for a regular employer. There is no issue for genuine owner-drivers who have their own operating licence and haulage business, but anyone driving a lorry for another company who is not in this category is highly unlikely to be classed by HMRC as genuinely self-employed.

The RHA is supporting HMRC in its enforcement efforts, and recently presented on the subject at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport, and have highlighted the HMRC rules at a series of member briefings around the country. Claiming self-employment status can mean serious problems for road freight operators when it comes to ensuring tachograph rules are being followed.

Some drivers have been found to be working elsewhere and even using alternative tachograph cards to prolong their working week making a mockery of the drivers hours regulations. RHA director of policy Jack Semple warns:

“Some firms and drivers know they are breaking the law, others perhaps are less sure. Various organisations and driver agencies have been promoting schemes that are unlawful. One myth is that you can set up a personal service company and think that allows you to be a self-employed lorry driver for other people. It doesn’t. Another myth is that if you drive for several firms, not just one, you can be self-employed. The number of firms you drive for is irrelevant.

”The rule is that when you drive for another firm, or for a whole series of other firms, you have to be treated as an employee on all occasions. Drivers themselves can end up as victims, either through being caught by HMRC or by losing employment rights, as they are billed, illegally, as self-employed. But hauliers could find that they are subject to claims under employment laws in any case, as the self-employment status is bogus.”

Staying with driver compliance the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has launched a new update to its Visionfta software so operators can keep a day-to-day check on their drivers’ licences. The new addition allows users to view alerts from FTA partner Licence Bureau, an independent licence validation company, and, when logged in to Visionfta, this creates a link between the two systems and removes the need for separate checks with the authorities. Licence Bureau Director Malcolm Maycock said:

“Licence Bureau is delighted to be working with FTA to help provide this service, which is essential to every business. It is really important for all operators to ensure that their drivers’ details are up-to-date and that their licences are fit for purpose. Linking our licence checking service to Visionfta helps to provide them with all information they need to fulfil their legal obligations in once place.”

Unlike many other tachograph analysis tools, Visionfta analyses under EU, UK domestic, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland domestic drivers’ hours. Drivers can also use the software to see their personal data on computer or the driver app, including forward-looking drivers’ hours, to help both the company and driver manage their compliance proactively. Sam Varrell, FTA Tachograph Product Owner, said Visionfta had developed into a ‘one stop shop’ for compliance, giving the complete picture of a transport operation in once place. She explained:

“Visionfta is web-based rather than an install so there’s no additional cost for licences per user. It gives a clear view across all drivers, not just one at a time, and has great flexibility. It can be used purely to manage drivers’ hour or customers can access more complex features such as the shift pre-planner, manual template builder and driver debrief and alerts.”