Driver Layoffs versus Terminations - What is Required to Stay Compliant?

Mark Schedler, Sr. Transport Management Editor

October 12, 2022

 Man walking to truck

If a driver is terminated and removed from the driver roster after a seasonal layoff, the driver must be treated as a rehire if they return. An entire DQ file is needed.

You can reuse copies of the following documents from the old driver qualification (DQ) file:

  • Valid medical card with time left provided the driver has not experienced disqualifying conditions.
  • Safety Performance History information from employers the driver worked at in the three years before being rehired provided the verifications were compliant with 391.23.  
  • Road test evaluation form and certificate, if completed less than three years ago per 391.33.


However, we frequently get the question: "What driver qualification actions are required if the driver was:

  1. Laid off due to seasonal work,
  2. Remained on the driver roster and was not terminated, and
  3. Was not driving for any other DOT number during their time away?"

In this case, the carrier will not need to create a new DQ file, pre-employment drug test, or pre-employment Clearinghouse query.

The key is that any documents that expired while not working (and not terminated) must be updated if overdue (before operating a CMV), such as the following: 

  • Annual Clearinghouse query,
  • Annual review of driver's MVR/safety,
  • Medical certification, or
  • Any other expirable document in the DQ file or queries.


As for CDL-vehicle drivers selected in a random pull during an absence:

  • If the driver is expected or could return to work during the testing cycle, you would keep the draw a secret and send the driver upon return.
  • If the driver does not return before the end of the testing cycle, you document why the test was not performed (did not work during a testing cycle). You are not in violation for the missed test.


If you select at a high enough rate to accommodate missed tests, no further action is needed other than documenting why you did not perform the test.

If you need the test to be compliant (e.g., select at the minimum testing rate), you may:

  1. Test at a higher rate later in the year to compensate for the missed test; or
  2. If you will not use the driver before the end of the testing cycle, you can use an alternate. Select an alternate by taking all the drivers' names not selected during the draw and selecting one single name, a mini draw of sorts.