Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has welcomed the government’s announcement that the rules on medicals for HGV drivers have been relaxed.
The announcement comes after heavy lobbying from Unite, which had warned the government that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, HGV drivers have been unable to undertake a medical resulting in 30,000 drivers potentially being forced off the road.
The requirement to have a medical is usually a mandatory requirement for many HGV drivers, depending on their age or existing medical conditions.
The government announcement means that provided drivers are “fit to drive”, they can apply for a one year extension on their existing HGV licence. The relaxation has been backdated to January 2020 so drivers who have already been affected can also secure an extension to their licence and return to work.
Common sense decision
Unite national officer Adrian Jones, said: “In these extraordinary times this was a common sense and overdue decision.
“Unite has been lobbying the department for transport on a daily basis to get this decision implemented as it affected a huge number of drivers who faced being forced off the road through no fault of their own.
“Thousands of lorry drivers will be highly relieved that they can continue to work and not have their livelihoods taken away from them because they were simply unable to obtain a medical.
“Unite will continue to maintain pressure on the government to ensure that the health and wellbeing of lorry drivers is protected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The relaxation on the requirement to have a medical also applies to bus drivers.