Absence

Furlough, Layoffs and Leaves of Absence

During these hard times, here is some advice on DOT record keeping during a driver absence. While each company is different, this guide is a snapshot of the most common options, along with the forms we use for our clients.

When a driver is unable to work, there are two common ways to address the absence. Which option is best is based on many things, so be sure to discuss your plans with your HR or Legal Team to fully understand your choices.

COMMON OPTIONS:

This simple bullet point list explains the DOT requirements and best practices for each of the most common options.

  • TERMINATION WITH INTENT TO REHIRE
    Drivers must be rehired fully upon return
    • For CDLs and in many states, Non-CDLs a new pre-employment drug test is required
    • MVR – within 30 days of hire
    • New Driver Qualification File
    • Updated Background Check – if required for new hires by your policy or local rules
    • Drivers may lose benefits, seniority, etc

  • FURLOUGH, LAYOFF, OR LEAVE OF ABSENCE
    SHRM explains the differences here.
    • Complete Driver Self Certification, MVR and Annual Review at least once every 12 months
    • Driver must remain in Random Drug Pool (CDLs and if required by law or policy, Non-CDLs)
    • On return, verify any new employer records and collect an hours of service record for intermittent drivers.
    • Drivers may be able to retain benefits, seniority, etc

Ensure that you craft company policies that outline how to handle planned driver absences. Review all policies carefully for compliance with local, state and federal regulations and apply them uniformly. It is a good idea to review all policies yearly as rules change.

RECOMMENDED FORMS:

Document driver absences using this form – NOT REQUIRED
Driver Furlough, Layoff or Leave of Absence

Upon return we recommend completing these forms:
Employment Record
Hours of Service Record for First Time or Intermittent Drivers

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

CONTACT INFO
It is a good idea to update driver contact information including addresses prior to any absence in order to help with any required notices.

PAYROLL
Review state and federal laws regarding payroll regulations and calculations for employees subject to furlough, layoffs or leaves of absence. Your payroll company should be able to assist.

COBRA
Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA) rules may apply to employers who offer health benefits.
Find more information on COBRA here.

THE WARN ACT
The Warn Act applies to employers with at least 100 full-time employees for layoffs that exceed six months. Most limousine and bus company employees are not covered by The Warn Act, but many states also have their own version which may be more strict.
Find more information on The WARN ACT here.

Experts

“Compliance Experts”

Let’s start by stating the obvious, we’re very pro-consultant and outsourcing, especially in compliance. That said, it’s important to note that at the end of the day, your company is responsible for any fines or rating reductions; regardless if you did work in-house, outsourced, or some combination thereof. Choose true experts to help you run a safe, legal and efficient operation.

DOT Experts

Most DOT experts are experts in the trucking industry or more commonly, not really experts at all. Regulations change constantly and before you pay someone for their advice, make sure they know what they’re talking about.

Over the last few years, I’ve read multiple articles and watched multiple videos that simply contained false information. The fine if you follow some of this advice: OVER $25,000 first offense.

Ask your consultant or potential hire how many audits they’ve been through, what percentage of those are passenger carriers, and how long they’ve been directly managing compliance. Simply running your own company or retiring as an inspector does not guarantee they have current, thorough or up-to-date knowledge.

Learn more about our DOT Experts here!

Drug Testing Experts

Drug testing is outsourced by everyone. Operators rely on their partners to be experts in the intricacies of FMCSA regulations so that they can simply send drivers to test and retain the proper forms.

We recently conducted an audit response for a company with 9 violations related to drug and alcohol testing. Nearly all of which should have been caught by a true drug testing expert. Their drug testing vendor, who was licensed by a national franchise, failed to catch or prevent any of them resulting in fines of over $10,000.

Ask your drug testing provider how many FMCSA regulated companies they provide services for. Check the forms used against DOT regulations and ensure you receive copies of all tests and custody control forms. Do not just trust them to keep them for you or to do them properly.

Click Here to Learn More About our Drug and Alcohol Testing Program!

ELDs and Digital Vehicle Inspections

ELD providers love to point out that they are FMCSA approved. This process is simply a self-certification where the person selling the device states that it complies with regulations. Feel comforted? The two most common providers we see are non-compliant.

Digital vehicle inspection providers are generally even worse. Can your driver digitally review the last vehicle inspection in accordance with 396.13(b)? If not, you need to provide a printed copy of each inspection for them to review before they operate. Imagine trying to do that for every 2am run on a vehicle that went out the night before. Reports content is also directed by regulation.

The simple problem is most software designers are not compliance experts. They sell software, usually with long term contracts, to lock you in whether you are happy or not.

Check out LimoLogs here!

Summary

Fake experts are everywhere and can cost you tens of thousands in fines while happily collecting your money every month. Take the time to vet your partners, make sure they have the experience, history and expertise in their specific subject area and then double-check their work. No one is perfect, but choosing the right partner goes a long way toward protecting your livelihood.

If you have questions, feel free to give us a call and check our site for our backgrounds and referrals.