The traffic commissioners are scrutinising requests by operators to furlough transport managers and companies should seek legal advice first, according to Backhouse Jones solicitors.

Director Jonathan Backhouse said guidance from the senior traffic commissioner outlined three scenarios in which a company may consider to furlough a transport manager – and firms shouldn’t assume the move isn’t in breach of licensing regulations.

The first is where a company wishes to furlough its one transport manager while continuing some form of operation.

Backhouse said it was highly unlikely the move would be allowed: “If you must, then before you do, contact the traffic commissioner and ask for a period of grace,” he said.

“The traffic commissioner will look very carefully at the circumstances around that decision.

“Very specific legal advice is needed.”

Backhouse said the TC would be looking at how the transport manager could be providing continuous and effective management if he’s furloughed: “And he can’t, of course,” he added.

The second scenario is a company with multiple transport managers and which wants to furlough some of them due to a much reduced operation.

Backhouse said this could probably be allowed, as long as there were enough remaining transport managers to carry out the functions within the reduced operation.

In a third scenario where an entire fleet of HGVs is temporarily laid up, then a traffic commissioner would not normally expect to be advised of the change.

However, Backhouse warned: “As soon as you think you’re going back into operation, bring that transport manager back very quickly.

“If and when they lift sanctions and release people into the community and you need to start operation again quickly, the transport manager is the first back before the start of the operation,” he said.

“That’s what the traffic commissioner is wanting to see.”

In addition, the STC guidance outlines what should happen with vehicle inspections when HGVs are needed again at short notice after operations recommence.

Summarising, Backhouse said: “It’s saying there should be a more enhanced walk around inspection at the very least.

“You need to take some guidance and advice on what that looks like, it would have to be a technically qualified person.”

The guidance can be accessed here: