New rules on night-out allowances, training levy and cab rest

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Wednesday 8 March 2017

Hauliers face the new financial year with a number of changes to the way in which they have to manage drivers and payroll issues.

These include alterations around night-out allowances, a new tax on payroll costs and a change to the way in which weekly rest periods are taken.

In spite of protestations from the Road Haulage Association (Transport Operator, 51), it appears that employers paying the agreed ‘bespoke rate’ tax-free for drivers who have to spend the night away from home will now be required to undertake a ‘sampling exercise’ to ensure that drivers are actually spending the money when ‘nighting out’ on, for example, accommodation, food and parking.

There is a reduced rate for drivers of trucks with sleeper cabs, which was originally intended to cover not only the costs of food and parking, but also the cost to the driver of equipping the cab with bedding and other necessary equipment.

The only way to avoid this is to obtain an ‘approval notice’. To obtain an approval notice, employers must demonstrate that they have a checking procedure in place which ensures that claimed-for nights out are actually being spent away from home.

More details are available here.

Also from this month, all companies with annual payroll costs of over £3 million in England will have to pay 0.5 per cent of their payroll costs in a new additional tax – the apprenticeship levy. This money will be used by the government to fund newly introduced Trailblazer apprenticeships, and the funding will be available to English businesses of all sizes from May.

Employers paying the levy will be able to draw the same amount, plus a 10 per cent contribution from the government, to fund training of their own apprentices.

They can even, for the first year of the scheme at least, direct the funds from their account to train apprentices working for another employer – a sub-contractor, for example. This ability to transfer funds will continue into 2018, but it likely to be capped at 10 per cent of the total contributed.

Funds remain accessible to the contributor for 24 months, and are accounted for on a ‘first in, first out’ basis. Contributors will be alerted in plenty of time to the expiry of contributed funds.

Apprenticeships are available for truck drivers, warehouse operatives and supply chain operators including traffic staff and removals porters. The standards can be found here.

Elsewhere, a statement by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has advised that Belgium and France are correct in their interpretation of the weekly rest regulations in EC 561/2006, which mean that a ‘normal’ 45-hour weekend break cannot count as ‘rest’ for tachograph and EC hours regulations purposes if it has been taken in the vehicle’s cab.

The 24-hour breaks which can be taken every other week, but must be compensated for, can still be taken in the vehicle’s cab.

New advice issued by the Department for Transport confirms that only the shortened weekly rest can be taken in the cab. It says: “You can take your daily rest period or a reduced weekly rest period in your vehicle, provided the vehicle is stationary and is fitted with suitable sleeping facilities. However, you cannot take a regular weekly rest period in your vehicle.”

The European Transport Workers’ Federation said it would campaign further to ensure that if weekly rest was taken away from home, then it would have to be in a hotel or motel room with individual sanitary facilities and access to hot meals.