Tags: industry insights, Driving, Industry Insights...

For HGV drivers, the laws are constantly changing. It's a challenge to keep up-to-date with each and every one, but fines can range from hundreds to thousands, so it can be an expensive mistake to make. If driving is your profession, whether that’s in the EU or UK-based, here’s five important HGV legislation updates that you should be aware of in 2020.

1)IR35 is delayed but still on the way

IR35 is a set of tax laws first introduced in April 2000. Based around the UK’s Finance Act, they impact agency workers, contractors and other off-payroll workers. The new rules are targeted at those who are not contractually employees within a firm, often operating within personal service companies (PSC). IR35 is set to impact tax and National Insurance payments in a big way, and will be introduced for the private sector in April 2021.

Policed by HMRC, IR35 was introduced to tackle a form of tax avoidance, to prevent contractors essentially being treated as an employee and yet officially appearing as self-employed.

Workers hired on a self-employed basis pay less tax, but are often treated the same as those employed directly by the company in terms of perks and bonuses. Businesses can also avoid paying National Insurance Contributions for said employee, and they do not legally have to offer any employment rights or official benefits.

From April 2021, drivers operating under an intermediary contract, even through their own limited company, will have to pay more tax if they are otherwise treated the same as full employees. This is known as being ‘Inside IR35’ and HMRC will expect both them and their employer to make additional tax payments .

2)Expired license? Check if there’s an extension

The ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdown caused a backlog of delays at the DVLA, and meant that getting hold of a new photo to update your driving license was tricky. To prevent drivers losing money unnecessarily by not being able to legally work or insure their vehicles, those with a photocard driving license have been given an extension.

Unlike civilians who only need to update their license every 10 years, HGV drivers and other transport professionals typically need a renewal every 5 years, with a recent photograph included.

It’s worth checking the date on your driver’s license to make sure that you’re included in the period of grace. It only includes licenses which have expired from 1st February to 31st August. Any driver, professional or otherwise, who needs to renew their license between these two dates is allowed 7 months to complete the renewal, to allow for disruptions due to COVID-19. If your license if up for renewal from September onwards, unfortunately you will have to renew as usual.

Drivers will be sent a renewal reminder when their 7 months is up, so if you are using this extension then make sure to keep an eye out for that.

3)EU legislation limits driver hours

Across the EU, there have been multiple rule changes, in order to protect drivers from unrealistic deadlines and to ensure they are taking obligatory breaks throughout their journey. Gone are the days of driving for 20 hours straight, in fact the regulations state that you must not drive more than:

•9 hours in a day - this can be extended to 10 hours twice a week

•56 hours in a week

•90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks

Any driving undertaken whilst within the EU must be recorded on a tachograph as evidence. There is also a new rule that states drivers must ‘return home’ for a rest every 4 weeks, so trips longer than that will have to be broken up by several drivers. Further down the line, it looks as though there will be even more safety features introduced for HGV drivers by 2021, although whether post-Brexit UK drivers will have to abide by them remains to be seen.

4)Additional changes to driver’s rest periods

As above, there are significant changes to the rules on driver breaks and rest periods, along with restrictions on the number of hours worked. This brings the HGV industry more into line with overall employment law through the EU, including mandatory lunch breaks for hours worked. The changes state that drivers must take:

•at least 11 hours rest every day - you can reduce this to 9 hours rest 3 times between any 2 weekly rest periods

•an unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week - you can reduce this to 24 hours every other week

•a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes after no more than 4 hours 30 minutes driving

•your weekly rest after 6 consecutive 24-hour periods of working, starting from the end of the last weekly rest period taken

There is also a ban on taking regular weekly rest periods in the driver’s vehicle, and more flexibility on scheduling rest periods on international trips.

5)What about Brexit?

Whilst the UK will be leaving the EU at the start of 2021, until then we remain a fully fledged member and therefore all EU laws changes remain in place until the Brexit negotiation period has ended in January 2021. That’s why, even if you drive exclusively in the UK, it’s important to be aware of any new legislation, or risk a fine or even termination.

One final thing to be aware of - if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, and your role necessitates driving abroad, there may be a requirement for an international driving permit, although this depends on the country you’re driving in or through. Some countries will not require a visa for a short visit (for example, Belgium) but for many (for example, France) it will be essential. It is always worth checking any subsequent visa needs with your employer, and to make sure to notify your business insurance provider to receive a motor insurance green card.

How can Search Transport help?

Search Transport can help you prepare for any upcoming legislation changes. For us as recruiters, having a knowledgeable team means we can advise and guide our drivers.. From IR35 to Brexit, our recruitment consultants will help you organise paperwork and take the necessary steps to manage these changes, and easily transition to the new rules.

Are you interested in the latest driving jobs? Get in touch and we’ll be ready to support you .

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