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Driver agency investigations highlight compliance risks

News that eighteen recruitment agencies supplying businesses in the West Midlands have fallen short of legal requirements on eighty separate occasions has, once again, highlighted the importance of working with reputable recruitment businesses when it comes to the supply of temporary drivers.

Offences which were uncovered following a Government-led investigation included:

• failing to confirm the identity of drivers
• not checking health and safety risks with hirers
• failing to issue terms and conditions
• not providing written agreements on pay

As Chris Chidley, Chief Executive of Driver Hire Nationwide, the leading driver recruitment specialist explains: “There’s an ever increasing raft of legislation affecting transport operators. These include drivers’ hours, tachograph rules and even corporate manslaughter. And of course, in this instance, the drivers were being exploited too. This makes it essential that all businesses using temporary driving staff to provide cover for their staff ensure that the agencies they use are 100% compliant and up to speed with road transport legislation.”

This latter point is doubly important for businesses with nationwide operations, who are often working with lots of different agencies. Unless their depots are told what to look out for they could inadvertently use an agency whose standards don’t meet their own, with potentially serious consequences.

“As drivers are often required at virtually no notice there is an understandable “just find me a driver” mentality,” Chris continues. “I’d recommend that transport operators and other businesses hiring drivers only work with agencies that meet the highest standards. For instance they should ask whether they are a member of industry bodies such as the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association. It’s also worth asking whether they have ISO 9001 quality accreditation. These are the hallmarks of a reputable agency which will provide reliable and dependable drivers to meet both temporary and permanent staffing needs.” 

Andrew Horner, Chair of the REC’s Drivers’ Sector Group added: "Some offences, such as failing to confirm the identity of drivers are very serious.   REC Drivers’ Sector Group members work hard to ensure that they supply their clients and workers alike with a high quality service.  Non-compliant agencies may offer cheap rates to clients and candidates, but there is always the risk of getting caught, which far out weighs any eventual cost savings.

"Therefore it is in the interests of all clients to ensure that those agencies with whom they are working are members of the REC, which guarantees they are working to a rigorous 10-point Code of Professional Practice.

"The actions of agencies who do not comply within the law simply undercuts those agencies operating within the rules, at the expense of drivers' rights and, potentially, the safety of the public.  We are pleased to see that the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate is rooting out non-compliant agencies."

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