Brexit – The In’s & Outs for the UK haulage industry

With the phrase “Brexit means Brexit” ringing in our ears, haulage companies across the country are preparing for the UK to leave the EU.

Of course, upon writing, Article 50 hasn’t yet been activated, which would commence the two year countdown to our exit but now that the government have appointed a new leader it is expected that negotiations are likely to begin sooner rather than later.

So what does that mean for the industry?

Driver Shortage

Well it comes as no great surprise that the UK industry has a skills shortage and that coupled with an ever aging workforce which will inevitably see a large number of drivers retiring in the not so distant future and the addition of restricting the free movement of people is of course a major concern for haulage companies who see employing foreign drivers as essential.

The FTA’s EU Affairs Manager, Chris Yarsley, recently stated; “With the UK’s current driver shortage , it is no surprise that labour mobility issues are at the forefront of international transport business’ minds and this is something that the FTA will be pressing the government to prioritise when negotiations begin”.

However … good news is perhaps on the horizon as it is thought that general haulage levels could possibly increase across the country due to the Brexit process as industries such as steelmaking are set to boost in domestic sales as the use of foreign imports could be halted.

Jack Semple, the Road Haulage Association’s director of policy, has however identified a solution to the problem; more investment in recruiting and training UK drivers through schemes such as the Trailblazer apprenticeship programme.

Legal implications

The legal ramifications of the leave vote, as with many aspects of Brexit, are difficult to predict.  Transport lawyer Richard Pelly, director of Pellys Transport and Regulatory Law, says that the UK’s transport and road safety laws are unlikely to be amended dramatically in the light of Brexit. “The fundamentals of safe and compliant operation are not going to change,” he states.

One area where Pelly does envisage some adjustment is in relation to employment law governing EU workers non-resident in the UK –including freight drivers. His advice is that haulage operators need to be prepared for any changes by making sure they are fully compliant with current legislation. “Now would be a good time [for operators] to review the systems and records in place to ensure that such drivers are properly employed, properly inducted and properly supervised,” he says.

Here at MEG Training Solutions we are reactive to many of the issues that have been raised due to Brexit and have implemented new training programmes into the training we offer to attract and aid potential new drivers as they start on the road to their new career in the industry.