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Ask the MAC - March 2020


Read the answers to questions received by our Member Advice Centre team

 

OVERNIGHT ALLOWANCE

Having recently obtained a new contract, some of our drivers are no longer able to get back to base in the same day. This means they must have a night out. We are looking at giving them an allowance, we have been told this can be tax free. I assume there is a limit to the amount we can pay?

The allowance you refer to is known as “driver overnight subsistence”. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has agreed bespoke allowances that employers can pay tax free to drivers’ essential expenses related to the business journey.

A change introduced by HMRC, from 6 April 2017 and amended on 6 April 2019, regarding the lorry driver overnight subsistence allowance, requires the operator to apply for an approval notice to continue being able to pay the driver this subsistence. The application also requires the operator to indicate the presence of a checking system that the operator uses on a random basis to ensure the expenses being claimed are compliant with the level of subsistence allowed for a driver.

The standard overnight allowance, where a driver pays for overnight accommodation, evening meal and breakfast is currently £34.90 per night. Where a driver uses a sleeper cab, the driver allowance is limited to 75% of the standard overnight allowance and is therefore £26.20 per night.

The allowance should represent reasonable reimbursement of evening meal and breakfast, washing facilities, upkeep and bedding in the cab. A checking system is required to ensure employees are undertaking qualifying travel. FTA has produced a briefng note on the subject. Details are also available from HMRC’s Employment Income Manual on GOV.UK.

 

DETECTING DEFECTS

Is it a legal requirement for the driver of a company vehicle to carry out a daily walkaround check of their vehicle before the vehicle is used on the road?

The legal requirement is to ensure the vehicle you are driving is in a roadworthy condition when used on the public highway. When a driver takes charge of a vehicle and takes it out on the public highway, they are legally responsible for the roadworthiness of such a vehicle. If a walkaround check of the vehicle is carried out correctly before it is used, this should highlight any such defects which the driver could be reasonably expected to notice, eg worn tyres, defective lights and any damage which could injure other road users or pedestrians. The defects can then be rectifed before the vehicle is used on the public highway. If the drivers have a checklist to complete, this can then be kept as evidence of the checks being carried out. Any defects listed on the defect sheet or electronic device should be signed off by the appropriate person once rectifed and a copy placed in the vehicle’s history fles and retained for a minimum of 15 months. This will then show enforcement authorities that a system is in place and defect rectifcation work is carried out. If no defects are found on the daily walkaround check, the checklist should be endorsed nil defects. It would be advisable to keep the nil defect reports until at least the next safety inspection.

If a vehicle is used by two drivers (eg the frst driver on day shift and the second driver on the night shift), it would be advisable that each driver carries out a walkaround check at the start of their shift.

 

MEDICAL MATTERS

A question has been raised in our company regarding a driver with a C1 acquired rights category on their licence and the need to have regular medicals. Our HGV drivers are required to undertake medicals at licence renewal. The driver in question only drives on an ad hoc basis as his primary role is a warehouse operative.

Where a C1 is obtained through a test pass (post 1997 drivers) then this is a group 2 licence and comes under the medical requirements for a vocational licence. As your driver has an acquired rights C1 category (pre 1997 licence) this comes under a group 1 licence. Therefore, the holder would have to meet the same medical criteria as a category B licence holder. A medical would be required at the age of 70 if the holder wished to keep their C1 category entitlement. However, licence holders have a legal duty to notify DVLA of any injury or illness that would have an impact on safe driving ability.

 

A TAX LESS PEDESTRIAN

We are the owners of several pedestrian-controlled vehicles. These are going to be used to collect rubbish from bins and precincts in our local town. Do they need to be registered as they are used on the road and in precincts?

A) The PCV (Pedestrian Controlled Vehicle) tax class is obsolete. 3A of VERA states that a vehicle which is not constructed or adapted for use, or used, for the carriage of a driver or passenger is an exempt vehicle. Furthermore, The Road Vehicles Registration and Licensing Regulations 2002, Regulation 4(2) state:

“Nothing in the following provisions of these Regulations applies to a vehicle which is an electrically assisted pedal cycle or pedestrian controlled vehicle”.

Therefore there is no requirement to register or licence a pedestrian-controlled vehicle which is defned as a "pedestrian controlled vehicle" with three or more wheels, which does not exceed 450 kg in weight unladen, and which is neither constructed nor adapted for use nor used for the carriage of a driver or passenger.

Published On: 02/03/2020 12:30:48

 

Ray Marshall, Senior Transport Advisor, FTA


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