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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Keep on trucking

As police checkpoints become increasingly stringent, FMCG supply chain drivers will need to provide ample proof their journey is ‘essential’, warns Tina Chander

Transport firms are being urged to protect their businesses from interruption caused by police monitoring of traffic movement during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Since the introduction of their new powers, many police forces across the UK have started stopping drivers to check they are making “essential-only” journeys, with the subsequent interruption and delays caused leading to red-tape headaches for companies and their drivers.
Companies in the food supply chain can take a few simple steps to prevent vital supplies being delayed; the most critical being issuing drivers and other transport staff with letters that confirm their work is essential.
Such letters will help when goods vehicles are pulled over by the police who understandably want proof that the activities being carried out fall within Government guidelines.
Currently for those companies who are unprepared, this means scrambling to pull together proof to allow their drivers to continue their journeys to deliver what will typically be time-sensitive essential goods, in what is an already disrupted commercial world.
Reports of just a few cases of what the police have found when stopping commercial vehicles makes their actions perfectly understandable as they are empowered to ensure that only essential journeys are being made, in order to limit the spread of the virus.
Many key workers have identification such as an NHS or emergency services cards, but often delivery drivers, who are themselves essential to maintaining the integrity of the supply chain, including everything from milk and vegetables to petrol and medicines, only have general identification such as driving licences.

Letter of Proof
Companies need to equip not just their drivers, but those who work within the supply chain with a letter proving their key worker status.
The list of ‘key workers’ produced by the Government includes those delivering the services of food and other necessary goods.
The letters should be printed on a formal company letterhead and should include the following information:
The name of the worker, along with the name and address of the employer, if it is not clear from the branded letterhead;
A simple statement that it is essential for this worker to continue to work as their duties are integral to the operation of the business and cannot be performed from home;
State that the worker will be required to travel to work – perhaps state their working hours if possible, but also state that they may work outside of these hours if this is applicable;
State that the company has impressed on the worker the importance of adhering to Government guidance, for example social distancing;
Provide contact details of the employer should the police have any questions; and
The letter should be signed by someone who has authority to act on behalf of the Company.

With no end in sight to the lockdown at the time of writing, these letters not only will help lessen disruption to the supply chain, but also mean less police time is expended for a matter that can be resolved at the roadside within minutes.
For the larger, more obvious branded vehicles the likely chance of being stopped is less, but as the supply chain increases deliveries to meet rising consumer demand, unmarked or generic branding logistics vehicles can probably expect to be stopped more often.
If the lockdown is extended or the travel restrictions are tightened, simple measures like this will become of increasing importance for the FMCG supply chain as it works hard to keep the country stocked with essential items. It is therefore key that employers provide workers with a letter proving their key worker status.

Partner at law firm Wright Hassall. She acts for small firms to large national and global businesses, advising on all aspects of employment tribunal proceedings and appeals

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