A Southampton-based container operator has been given two months to stop using drivers employed through their own limited companies, or face the loss of its licence. Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney said international licence holder Leo.Al.Auto must demonstrate its drivers were “on the books”, with tax and national insurance deducted at source and holiday pay and pension contributions in place, unless it wanted to go out of business.
The company, which has two operating centres in Marchwood, Hampshire, appeared before the TC at a Bristol PI following a traffic examiner report which uncovered a raft of shortcomings. These included an expired Driver CPC and no copies of driving licences, CPC cards, tacho cards or any licence checks. There was also no driver training being conducted internally, the Working Time Directive was not being monitored and no PMI records were available to analyse. However, the issue of employing drivers through their own companies was not in the PI’s call-in letter and only became apparent on scrutiny of the firm’s bank statements. As a result, TC Rooney set the clock ticking for the firm to overhaul its employment practices or else face the loss of its licence.
In a written decision, Rooney said Leo.Al.Auto’s transport manager, Darren Boyce-Smith, had admitted to doing nothing in his role for 11 months and that he had become complacent and let things slide. The TC described Boyce-Smith as “entirely ineffective” and that he required a period of time away from the role to reflect upon his own failings. As a result, the transport manager was disqualified until October 2023. He also said the company’s sole director, Algimantas Leonickas, had allowed his driver card to be used by another driver and that this was a “reckless act”. However, he also acknowledged that the director’s reliance on so-called self-employed drivers was unwitting and not due to a conscious disregard for compliance.
The company had introduced an action plan to resolve its problems and Rooney said that if the company could also demonstrate that drivers were properly employed then his revocation order would be set aside and its good repute would be re-established. The TC added that the firm’s licence would also be curtailed to two vehicles for a month.