CommercialFleet

Updated: Firm given 14 days to prove drivers are being employed legally

court gavel

A Southampton haulier has 14 days to provide evidence that it is directly employing its drivers – or demonstrate that using self-employed drivers is legal for the activities they undertake.

West of England Traffic Commissioner, Kevin Rooney, gave Andy Transport an ultimatum after an audit report identified that its drivers were self-employed.

Last year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) advised the Road Haulage Association (RHA) that it is rare in road haulage for someone to be genuinely self-employed, unless they are an owner-driver.

HMRC is aware that some haulage companies are being sold the idea that they can set up, or have an agent set up companies for their workers to avoid tax liabilities.

In February 2017, Andy Transport Limited submitted an audit to the Traffic Commissioner’s office, which noted that drivers operated under subcontracts and were not employed directly by the company. Drivers had set up their own companies and invoiced Andy Transport Limited for work undertaken.

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner subsequently wrote to the company asking it to explain how it met the requirements of HMRC’s IR35 legislation, the set of rules which affect tax and national insurance contributions for anyone who is contracted to work for a client through an intermediary.

In response, Andy Transport stated that all drivers were registered as self-employed, responsible for tax and National Insurance themselves and paid through invoice by the company.

At a public inquiry on May 4, Rooney found the firm had not sought legal advice before attending. He gave the business 14 days to either provide legal argument, addressing relevant case law and setting out how the current employment arrangements are legal, or to submit evidence that drivers are directly employed.

The Traffic Commissioner warned the company that a failure to do so would result in the operator’s licence being curtailed from three vehicles to one – as the company has only one directly employed driver. A further hearing would also be convened.

Update

Further to the direction made by the Traffic Commissioner for the West of England at public inquiry on May 4, Andy Transport has submitted evidence to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner regarding the employment of its drivers.

Following a review of this evidence, the explanations given by the company and the assurances it has provided, the Traffic Commissioner has recorded a formal warning on the company’s licence in relation to the issues highlighted in the case.

The Traffic Commissioner also approved a variation application submitted by the operator to increase its licence authorisation to 8 vehicles 8 trailers and add a new operating centre. 
 



Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Comment as guest


Login / Register

Comments

  • Derek Webb - 17/05/2017 11:43

    My opinion - HGV usage on UK roads is a minefield of possible fraud and deception. The road hauliers are, in the main, law abiding but what we (other road users) see on a daily basis are trucks parked in layby's over night so as no-one else can use them, overloaded trucks hardly able to pull their loads, trucks unable to pass each other on B roads, trucks unable to turn at corners in small towns, foreign registered trucks staying in the UK and drivers "living" in them for weeks at a time, 12 wheel trucks delivering small parcels, trucks occupying 2 or 3 lanes of motorways for miles at a time, farmers pulling totally illegal trailers for miles behind tractors - probably without appropriate insurance and running on red diesel (is there law somewhere) and on and on - its a free for all and we so very little being done about; it's a surprise to see your article.

    Reply as guest

    Login / Register
  • Roger - 17/05/2017 12:33

    I didn't realise that TC's could determine how people employed their staff. It may be rare, but I see self-employed drivers as being no different to other skilled and professional self-employed where they charge out their services for a specific duty. Self employed means that one undertakes the job within ones own skills and provides the output as the employer requests. You are responsible for your own results and generally how you undertake it. By skilled I infer that one has the necessary (and checked) credentials and are fit to undertake the duty. Now the crunch could be as who is providing the insurances. Is it that much different in scope to 'agency driving' or is it pedantic technicalities? Or is there an agenda here? Surely these employment issues are a political decision to be decided at the centre after debate.

    Reply as guest

    Login / Register
What's the tax liability on my van?

Calculate the BIK tax on any van on sale today with our van tax calculator

Track down the cheapest forecourts

Find the cheapest forecourts in your area with our van fuel price locator

How green is your van?

Check out the CO2 emissions for new vans with our CO2 calculator?