What are Grandfather Rights and What Does CPC Mean?

If you passed your LGV or HGV driving licence prior to 2009 then you’ll definitely know all about grandfather rights, but those new to the industry may not have heard of it before, and how it applies to lorry drivers. Grandfather rights is a provision in a new law that allows old rules to apply; as such it provides exemption from having to follow new legislation. 

Within employment, this means that if you’re already working within a trade and have met previous training requirements, then you can be awarded grandfather rights and be exempt from complying with newly introduced standards. This is an important point of law across many industries; it protects employees from the expense of retraining to do a job they already perform, and protects them from the threat of redundancy. It also ensures there are no sudden shortages within a workforce.

When it comes to HGV driving, grandfather rights are of particular significance, and this is because of the introduction of the professional driving qualification known as the Driver CPC. We’ll discuss who was granted exemption from this legislation later in the article, but first of all, here’s some information on the Driver CPC and why it was introduced… 

What is the Driver CPC?

The Driver CPC is the ‘Driver Certificate of Professional Competence’. It was introduced in 2008 for bus and coach drivers and in 2009 for lorry drivers, as a result of EU directive 2003/59. The Driver CPC was brought in to increase road safety, professionalism and environmental awareness. It applies to professional drivers of lorries weighing over 3,500 kg (3.5 tonnes) and minibuses carrying over 9 people. Unlike a car driving licence, which once passed doesn’t require refresher courses, the Driver CPC was brought in to ensure continued professional development. 

The qualification phase is also known as the Initial Driver CPC. It’s divided into four parts, with both theory and practical elements:

  • Part 1 – Theory 
  • Part 2 – Case Studies
  • Part 3 – Driving Ability
  • Part 4 – Practical Demonstration

Once qualified, drivers receive a driver qualification card (DQC). This must be carried at all times while driving professionally.

Additionally, in order to keep and maintain their status, drivers must undertake 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years. After completing training, a new DQC is issued. The periodic training is a legal requirement, and ensures drivers can refresh their skills and keep up to date with legislation. Subjects covered include: emergency first aid, drivers hours regulations, load safety, vehicle systems and regulations for carriage of goods. Failure to complete the periodic training by the 5-year deadline results in suspension of entitlement, and means the driver is operating illegally until the training has been completed. 

Who needs the Driver CPC?

If you want to drive for a living – be that as a heavy goods vehicle, bus or coach driver – then you’ll need to pass the Driver CPC. 

In certain circumstances a full Driver CPC won’t be required. Such as, if the vehicle:

  • Has a maximum authorised speed of 28mph.
  • Is used or controlled by the armed forces, police, fire service, ambulance service or prison service.
  • Is on an emergency or rescue mission.
  • Is undergoing road tests. 
  • Is being used for driving lessons.
  • Is being driven to or from a pre-booked appointment at an approved test centre.
  • Is being road tested for repair, maintenance or technical development purposes.
  • Is newly built, or rebuilt, and has not yet been taxed.

However, this doesn’t mean that no driving licence is required. For example, if you want to drive for a hobby or use the vehicle for non-commercial carriage of passengers of goods, you won’t require the full CPC but will need to pass parts 1 and 3 of the qualification. This gives you a vocational licence, which allows you to drive, but not for a living. 

For a full list of exemptions, consult this list from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

Who has Grandfather Rights?

So that explains what driving circumstances might not require the full Driver CPC, but there’s a whole cohort of professional drivers that are also exempt, and that’s where the issue of grandfather rights comes in.

The Driver CPC was officially implemented on 10th September 2009 for goods transport. All new LGV and HGV drivers qualifying after this date were required to pass the four-part Driver CPC. However, this presented an issue for existing drivers, who had all taken a vocational licence and completed previous training requirements. Forcing all drivers to comply with this new standard would not only mean that haulage companies and drivers would face the expense of retraining, but it would also lead to a drastic shortage of drivers on the road while training was completed. So in acknowledgement of their previous experience, grandfather rights were awarded to drivers holding category C, C1, C+E and C1+E licences prior to 10th September 2009. In terms of passenger transport, the Driver CPC was introduced a year earlier, meaning that grandfather rights were awarded to all bus and coach drivers who held category D, D1, D+E and D1+E licences prior to 10th September 2008.

This allowed those who qualified to continue working in their chosen profession, without having to retrain. Although it’s important to note that these acquired rights don’t apply to the whole of the Driver CPC. They exempt existing drivers from the initial qualification, which is the four-part driver CPC test. All drivers, including those with grandfather rights, must complete the 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years. This is to ensure that strict driving standards are adhered to and drivers are aware of changes in regulations. 

Will Brexit change anything?

We’re all waiting to fully understand the impact of Brexit on the haulage industry and driving standards. However, in terms of the Driver CPC, although this was brought in under a European directive, it’s also passed into British law (all such directives had to pass into National law for member states). This means that it won’t be phased out, but we could see changes to the subject matter taught. Given our reliance on trade with Europe, it’s in our interest to maintain similar standards, to allow UK drivers to operate through EU countries and EU drivers to operate in the UK. 

We hope that’s helped you understand grandfather rights, who is entitled to them and what training will still be required. We’ll be keeping an eye on any changes to the Driver CPC post-Brexit, and let you know on this blog. Until then, whether you’re a seasoned driver with grandfather rights in need of periodic training or are interested in becoming an HGV driver but need to find a CPC training provider, we have a wealth of information on our website and a handy form that can direct you to leading HGV training providers.