HGV driver retention surcharge imposed by hauliers to offset cost of critical resource

August 16, 2021
hgv drivers shortage leads to driver retention surcharge
Martin Carter
Head of Operations
2 Minutes

Already struggling with HGV driver shortages, hauliers that now find their most experienced drivers being poached away by better pay and conditions are imposing ‘driver retention surcharges’ to offset the cost of hanging onto their most critical resource.

Put off by long hours and low pay the haulage sector has struggled to hang on to qualified HGV drivers and find new recruits for years, but the issue, which has been effectively ignored for at least a decade, has become critical since Brexit and Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 45,000 HGV driver tests are outstanding at DVSA as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns, while 79,000 European logistics workers returned to their home countries following Brexit and recent tax changes which, combined with an existing shortage of HGV drivers, has left haulage firms struggling with an estimated shortfall of 100,000 lorry drivers.

To resolve the driver shortage that, is increasingly impacting the supply of goods, the government announced that HGV drivers would temporarily be allowed to work ten hours a day, instead of nine, until the 8th August.

But the bid to tackle driver shortages is having unintended consequences, by heightening demand for HGV drivers from retailers, who can offer less hours, no night working, better pay (£10K+ p.a.) and no queues at loading/unloading points.

The poaching of drivers from international, containerised and air freight transport to retail logistics – with Tesco offering drivers a £1,000 signing-on fee – is presenting massive freight logistical challenges that, if not swiftly addressed, are likely to get significantly worse in the short-term.

We are already seeing the direct impact of hauliers increasing their drivers’ pay, in desperate efforts to hold onto them, with firms issuing “driver retention surcharges” to cover the additional salary costs.

This is an evolving situation, but we are already seeing hauliers imposing £100 surcharges on each load and we fully expect the practice to be swiftly by all hauliers, as the industry tries desperately to stem the outflow of their drivers.

If you have any questions around the surcharge, please get in touch with your Unsworth representative.

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