Woodfines’ solicitors, Tim Ridyard and Nick Sayer, took part in a Brexit debate on 12 October 2016 at the University of Warwick, presented by Commercial Motor and Motor Transport. The morning comprised a keynote address followed by two operational and employment panel debates considering the potential consequences for the road transport sector of leaving the UK and how the sector should plan, manage and address this.
In terms of changes in regulatory law affecting operators and drivers, there was widespread consensus that there is unlikely to be any radical change in areas such as operator licensing, drivers’ hours, driver CPC and road transport working time – even if there might be scope for some modifications in aspects of some regulations that trouble operators and drivers, e.g. Driver CPC and road transport working time.
The debate led by the employment panel, of which Woodfines’ Employment lawyer, Nick Sayer, was part, highlighted the large proportion of non-UK workers from EU member states working in the transport and logistics sector, not only as drivers but also as non-drivers in areas such as warehousing and distribution. Speakers and delegates noted that dependence on non-UK drivers at a time of driver shortages was caused by a number of factors, including the demands of Driver CPC, less favourable working conditions and poor sector image amongst other things, compromising recruitment. One panel member flagged up the dangers of any possible future work permit scheme for EU nationals that could be administratively burdensome and also reduce the availability of driver and non-driving staff for the sector when the supply of labour was vital.
Just before the debate, the Government announced its proposals to address EU law in place at the date of the UK’s departure from the EU, whenever that may happen to be. The ostensible plan is to retain and adopt the provisions to which the UK is subject at the end of EU membership and then maintain, amend or remove legislation, post-departure from the EU. The general consensus among many road transport regulatory lawyers is that in reality there is likely to be limited appetite or scope for a change in most areas, e.g. operator licensing, drivers’ hours, road transport working time and Driver CPC. The Department for Transport has already indicated no immediate plans for change in the area of Driver CPC as a result of the Referendum decision, for example.
Woodfines’ Road Transport team will continue to keep you updated in this area over the months and years to come.