TC gives Grantham operator two months to have employee drivers

Employee or self-employed occupation career business concept in office

Jordan Wormall has been given two months by Traffic Commissioner Richard Turfitt to make all regular drivers employees of his operation

Grantham-based Jordan Wormall, who holds a five-vehicle national O-Licence, has been given two months by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Richard Turfitt to make all regular drivers employees of the operator so that National Insurance and PAYE can be deducted at source.

Mr Wormall had been called before the TC because of concern over vehicle maintenance, compliance with the drivers’ hours and tachograph rules and finance. It was confirmed in evidence that two drivers held themselves out as self-employed: Driver Murphy, whose wife was paid because he did not have a bank account, and Mr Wormall’s brother, Martin.

The TC said that, in the 2019 case of Bridgestep Limited; Tom Bridge (2020), the Upper Tribunal had referred to the practice of drivers classifying themselves as self-employed, saying that the legitimacy or otherwise of a driver’s self-employment status was fact specific. It referred to a conscious decision to enter into an arrangement with the company’s drivers which was highly questionable, if not a sham. The reasons for doing so were anti-competitive being as they were, concerned solely with the cost of employing the drivers, and by reducing that cost, gaining a competitive advantage over other compliant operators.

The Tribunal went on to describe the vast majority of operators making the right decision to employ their drivers, paying National Insurance, pension contributions, holiday and sickness entitlement. The consequence in the case before them was that the company and Transport Manager felt unable to give any instruction to drivers whether it be in relation to route planning or otherwise and consequently, were unable to have continuous and effective management of the transport operation. In the period of driver shortages, it might also result in an unfair competitive advantage.

TC Turfitt made adverse findings in regard to vehicle maintenance, which did not amount to effective or continuous management by Mr Wormall as Transport Manager. His repute was therefore tarnished by that failure. In regard to finance, the TC granted a period of grace to show financial standing by 31 July. That financial evidence should also show that drivers were now employed and therefore under the control of the operator or Transport Manager.

Mr Wormall gave undertakings in regard to a future audit of his compliance systems and in regard to the employment of the drivers.

The TC said that Mr Wormall was involved in the provision of home-to-school services for Lincolnshire County Council. He also undertook work for the Cromwell Housing Association through the Home Office. In both cases he was responsible for vulnerable persons. He was warned that this was a final opportunity to resolve matters outstanding from the DVSA investigations, and that there could be no repeat of the shortcomings discovered.