Logistics Recruitment: Labyrinth launches a fresh approach

Labyrinth Recruitment

Logistics Recruitment: Labyrinth launches a fresh approach

For the past few years now the hot topic of conversation within the transport and logistics industry has been the skills shortage. There have been a number of seminars and debates relating to the issues and in most instances the main focus has been on external factors effecting the industry rather than the internal ones.

Take the driver shortage, the main issues highlighted have been around roadside facilities, the introduction of the CPC and the cost of the gaining an LGV licence. However, Government figures show that the number of drivers taking and passing their LGV tests since 2010 has grown year on year. In the period of April 2014-March 2015, 55,161 people took their LGV test of which 30,574 passed (www.gov.uk). There is also some interesting recent analysis on the subject from Kirsten Tisdale FCILT here: http://www.aricia.ltd.uk/Temp/ThereIsNoShortage120116.pdf.

So, why is there such a shortage?

Having previously worked within a transport operation and as a logistics recruiter, Labyrinth’s expert in this area, Jennifer Dixon, believes many of the issues companies face can be linked to the effectiveness of companies’ own recruitment processes. For example, newly qualified drivers are often overlooked for positions as they don’t meet the usual criteria and they don’t have the necessary experience. However, companies should be looking at ways to utilise these drivers to help develop a skilled workforce and reduce the skills gap. Through all of the compliance, legislation, rules and regulations, it’s no wonder recruitment is at the bottom of a long list of priorities but there does seem to be a distinct lack of time and resource allocated to the recruitment and training process. The importance of having a targeted recruitment strategy shouldn’t be overlooked. A recruitment strategy should work hand in hand with the overall business plan and is essential to the successful growth and development of the organisation as a whole.

Labyrinth Logistics were recently asked by a client to assist on a project to improve their approach to driver recruitment across their network. They were feeling the effects of the ‘driver shortage’ and wanted to look at new ways to attract and retain drivers. We reviewed their recruitment practises, highlighted areas for improvement and worked with them to improve their end-to-end processes.  We offered training and support at each stage of the project and they now have the foundations on which to build a long-term recruitment strategy.

As a result of working on this project and using our many years of experience in the transport, logistics and recruitment industries, Labyrinth Logistics has developed and launched a Recruitment Review & Support Service to add to our growing list of Consultancy Services. The aim of the of which, is to understand the business requirements, identify skills gaps, and develop and implement cost effective recruitment solutions to suit the operational needs. With the focus on candidate attraction, recruitment, engagement and retention we can offer an impartial solution that benefits the company and works alongside the overall business strategy.

While the industry associations such as the FTA, RHA and CILT deal with the external issues, Labyrinth believes every company can look internally and adopt manageable recruitment solutions to avoid becoming a victim of the ‘skills shortage’. In such a reactive industry transport and logistics companies need to make sure that they are proactive when it comes to recruitment and training. After all, employees at all levels are ultimately the ones who will be instrumental to the success or failure of the operation and by making them the focus and investing the right time and resource from the start companies can ensure they meet the short-term and long-term objectives of the business.

http://www.labyrinthsolutions.co.uk/index.php/consultancy/recruitment-review-support

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Revised Statutory Documents pave the way for a new operator ways of working in 2016

Revised Statutory Documents pave the way for a new operator ways of working in 2016

Senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell has just published a revised set of statutory documents covering key areas of operator licensing and decision making; they come into force on 1st January 2016. These documents are designed to have two parallel purposes; to clarify the expectations of the Traffic Commissioners when it comes to Operator and vocational Driver conduct, and at the same time making decision-making clearer for the internal teams working with the TCs thus enabling devolved decision-making.

The Labyrinth team has reviewed these documents in detail and can report the following key points from the perspective of the operators:

1. For the first time, there is a clear a role description for transport managers and what they are expected to do;
2. A new approach to transport manager working hours;
3. New guidance on driver conduct, including case studies that operators can use to train and educate employees.

“The changes to the statutory documents are designed to streamline processes, extend delegation to our staff and give better guidance so that decisions can be made more quickly,” states Mrs Bell.

“These changes will help to deliver a more efficient and effective licensing regime for compliant operators.”

And she adds that the objective throughout has been to meet the traffic commissioners’ strategic objectives of reducing the burden on compliant operators, targeting only those who put road safety at risk, and achieving more consistent outcomes when dealing with professional drivers’ conduct.

 “We have also introduced case studies to provide practical examples of what action can be taken against drivers. This will benefit operators who are proactive in training and managing drivers who are found to be offending.”

Labyrinth has updated its online transport compliance self-audit tool, SilkThread ®, to reflect all these changes. More information about the product can be found at www.silkthread.co.uk.

For those operators keen to understand how it affects them, here is an overview of the relevant changes.

Statutory Document 1:  Good Repute and Fitness

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/483041/stat-doc-1-good-repute-and-fitness.pdf

This document clearly sets out the requirements for Good Repute for Transport Managers. It gives guidance, with significant detail, on how a TM might lose Good Repute based on convictions and other issues, including conduct. Serious offences resulting in loss of repute are defined and more than one road transport offence will result in loss of repute. It also states the way that a Period of Grace works – operators are required to advise the TC if a TM is no longer in position, or has lost his/her repute, and the TC can grant a period of up to 6 months for a replacement to be found, but this is not a guaranteed period. It also gives clear guidance on how O licence applications from Phoenix Companies (sometimes called “Pre-pack”) should be treated.

Statutory Document 2:  Finance

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/483575/statutory-document-2-finance.pdf

This document is aimed more at the internal staff than the operator, however it is a useful document for operators to read and understand prior to submitting evidence of the required financial standing. This covers what does and does not constitute evidence of appropriate financial standing and can help operators submit their records in the most appropriate way. It also covers the need to provide consistent evidence of sufficient funds rather than a snapshot.

Statutory Document 3: Transport Managers

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-commissioners-transport-managers-january-2016

This document provides a very useful insight into what the TCs expect of the role of the Directors and Transport Managers. It provides clarity on the definition of an external and internal transport manager and the related expectations, and what constitutes a “Genuine Link” to an operator.

This document also reminds us that a transport manager must possess more than good repute, a qualification and sufficient hours to meet the statutory duty. S/he must be capable of actually managing the transport operation effectively. That may include an assessment not only of knowledge but other facts such as knowledge or confidence to manage. The document also suggested what TCs expect as a starting point in terms of hours worked by a transport manager, which range from two to four hours a week for a fleet of two vehicles or fewer, to full time with additional assistance for operations running more than 50 trucks. Details are shown below.

New Hours requirements for Transport Managers

Motor Vehicles

Previous hours

New hours

2 or less

8

2-4

3 to 5

15

4-8

6 to 10

20

8-12

11 to 14

25

12-20

15 to 29

Full time

20-30

30 and above

Full time + additional assistance required

30- Full Time

Above 50

 

Full time + additional assistance required

Additional hours may be required for trailers

 

 

It also covers, for the first time, General Responsibilities (pages 14-16) which is a helpful guide to what a Transport Manager needs to do to discharge his/her responsibilities as part of the Undertakings.

The Senior Traffic Commissioner has therefore identified the following non-exhaustive list of the types of activity which might be expected of a transport manager:

  • to manage, audit and review compliance systems to ensure that they are effective;
  • to review any shortcomings such as prohibitions and/or annual test failures;
  • to ensure that relevant changes are notified in accordance with operator licence requirements;
  • to keep up to date on relevant changes in standards and legislation;

The following areas are identified as key:

  • Drivers – administration
  • Drivers –management
  • Drivers - operations
  • Vehicle – administration
  • Vehicle - management

 The details which accompany this list are a vital read for all Transport Managers. It also covers the responsibilities of the Directors of an operators, who are expected to “Supervise and monitor the actions of the Transport Manager” (see point 28).

Finally it covers the “starting point” for assessing the capacity to exercise full and effective management submissions.

Statutory Document 4: Operating Centres

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-commissioners-operating-centres-stable-establishments-and-addresses-for-service-january-2016

This document provides useful definitions for the following key phrases relevant to the Undertakings:

  • “Stable establishment”
  • “Normally kept” (relating to vehicles)
  • “Suitable” premises

It also covers guidance on advertising, addresses and accessibility of operators to the TC ensuring letters can be answered in a timely manner, and how the objections process works.

Statutory Document 5: Legal entities

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/483045/stat-doc-5-legal-entities.pdf

 This document provides useful guidance on what constitutes different legal entities from the perspective of O licensing, and lays out Directors’ responsibilities in section 13, including referencing the Controlling Mind and what constitutes a Director.

Statutory Document 6: Vocational Driver conduct

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/484245/statutory-document-6-vocational-driver-conduct.pdf

This document covers the standards expected of a professional driver, and includes the following key phrase (point 45):

Conduct & fitness: Drivers are expected to fully acquaint themselves with the relevant legislation before undertaking employment as a professional driver. Drivers cannot evade their personal responsibility by stating that they bowed to their employer’s orders on issues related to their obligations under the regulations.

Details of all other expectations of professional conduct are included in detail.

Further Statutory documents

Further guidance, including that on impounding of vehicles, can be found at

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/senior-traffic-commissioners-statutory-guidance-and-statutory-directions

Further information on Labyrinth’s online transport compliance self-audit tool, SilkThread ®, can be found at www.silkthread.co.uk.

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The result of being "Hazy about O licence Compliance"

 In September 2015, Commercial Motor Magazine published this report, and we thought the wording of the Traffic Commissioner Nick Denton to be poignant, especially in light of the new Statutory Documents being released in January 2016: 

"South East and Metropolitan traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton suspended the O-licence held by Quality Foods from 8 to 26 September following a public inquiry.

Quality Foods supermarket and its owners Arvind Sedani, Pius Sedani and Vipul Sedani will not be allowed to run any vehicles until next week after an investigation by the DVSA revealed a number of faults.

The company had failed to check drivers' hours and tachograph records and left excessive gaps between routine safety checks on vehicles.

Drivers had also committed weekly rest offences including failing to take two consecutive days off, and had neglected to identify numerous defects on vehicle safety inspection reports.

Premises in Ilford and Spitalfields were also identified that had not been approved by the TC.

The investigation was initiated following a check of one of the partnership's vehicles earlier this year. The inspection revealed tachograph charts that went back to April 2014 and therefore disregarded the legal requirement for used charts to be returned to the operator within 42 days.


TC Denton said that partners Arvind and Pius Sedani appeared to be "hazy on the details of some of the measures taken to address the non-compliance" and were "too ready to offer the traffic manager as a panacea rather than taking charge themselves".


He noted that there had been no evidence of serious instances of driving over the drivers' hours limits and that an outside body had been engaged to analyse driver records and produce reports about infringements.

A three week suspension was therefore deemed appropriate, though TC Denton said that the reoccurrence of the problems reported by the DVSA would most likely result in the O-licence being revoked.

The public inquiry was held on 5 August and resulted in four undertakings being attached to the partnership's licence:

  • at least two partners will attend an O-licence management course by 31 October this year. An independent audit of the operator's systems for maintenance and drivers' hours and the effectiveness of those systems will also be carried out before this date.
  • all drivers will attend CPC training modules which include driver walk round checks and the use of tachographs by 30 September.
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