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Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Guidance on Furloughing Transport Managers

08 April

The Senior Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt, has further updated his Advice Note for Operators to specifically include guidance on furloughing Transport Managers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transport Managers must continuously and effectively manage the transport operations and the conditions on every Operator’s Licence require operators and transport managers to notify the Traffic Commissioner of anything which may affect a transport manager’s ability to carry out their role (which in turn may affect the operator’s ability to demonstrate professional competence).

The guidance recognises that, during the current crisis, there may be certain scenarios which may lead to a transport manager being furloughed.  The Senior Traffic Commissioner has therefore provided an indication in the guidance of what the Traffic Commissioners might expect in various different scenarios.

Firstly, the guidance confirms that, where an operator has temporarily laid up their whole fleet of licensed vehicles, the transport manager will not be expected to exercise continuous and effective management of an undertaking that is not operating – the transport manager can therefore be furloughed and (given the transport manager’s continuity of employment is unaffected by any furlough period) there will continue to be a genuine link between the transport manager and the operator’s business.  The Traffic Commissioner would not normally be expected to be notified of this change; however, the transport manager must return to work before operations re-commence.

Secondly, the guidance anticipates that some operators will continue to operate but will reduce their overall operation.  This may – where there are multiple transport managers nominated on the Operator’s Licence(s) – result in some transport managers being furloughed (whilst some remain active within the business).  In these circumstances, the Traffic Commissioner must be provided with details of the arrangements and may subsequently request further information.

Thirdly, if an operator continues operating vehicles but tries to furlough the only transport manager, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner must be notified immediately.  Furloughing the only transport manager – where vehicle operations are continuing – is entirely incompatible with the statutory duty to continuously and effectively manage the transport operations.  Further, all standard licences must maintain professional competence (through the engagement of a transport manager who continuously and effectively manages the transport activities) at all times.   The Senior Traffic Commissioner therefore expects any operator who wishes to continue operating whilst their only transport manager is furloughed to apply for a period of grace or seek a temporary exemption (to continue operating without a transport manager). The grant of any such application is at the Traffic Commissioner’s discretion (and it is likely that the Traffic Commissioner will require details of how vehicle operations will be managed – to satisfy themselves that road safety is not jeopardised – during the period of transport manager furlough) and the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Emergency Statutory Document issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic provides guidance to the Traffic Commissioners on how to deal with any such requests.

For further information, or for assistance in relation to  any of the notifications or applications referred to above, contact a member of the Regulatory team on 01254 828 300 or regulatory@backhouses.co.uk

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