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When operating a fleet, employers have an explicit duty of care, not only for employees, but also to the general public to conduct business activities in accordance with UK law. It is an offence if a company allows an employee to drive a vehicle for work without a valid licence and employers should satisfy themselves that drivers are competent and capable.
There are several pieces of legislation that cover your responsibility, which are as follows:
The Road Traffic Act 1988 – “It is an offence for a person to cause or permit another person to drive on a road a motor vehicle of any class if that other person is not the holder of a licence authorising him to drive a motor vehicle of that class.”
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – 2.1 – “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.”
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – 3.1 – “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct their undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 – “Organisations that require employees to drive as part of their work must monitor their employees’ entitlement to drive and verify their driving licences.”
In the event of a work-related death, any investigation is likely to focus its attention on the organisation’s senior management to confirm they have the correct procedures in place and that those procedures are robust, monitored and managed properly to ensure compliance with the law.
Failure to comply with legislation can, and regularly results in severe penalties such as fines, loss of your operator’s licence and even potential prosecution or imprisonment for both employer and driver.
According to the Health and Safety Executive – “Estimates suggest that up to one-third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time.”
Unfortunately, there are too many examples in recent years which have highlighted the potential risks arising from a work vehicle related death, where insufficient checks on drivers and vehicles have taken place. There are several affects to any business from an incident, especially where an avoidable loss of life has occurred, including negative publicity, loss of revenue, fines and criminal investigations.
To protect your business and ensure compliance with legislation, as a minimum, you should carry out the following checks:
These checks will need to be conducted on a regular basis, at least once a year, but since penalty points can accumulate rapidly, it may be advisable to do it more frequently. Periodic checking of licences safeguards against the possibility that a driver may have been disqualified for a private driving offence and may alert management to other factors such as medical conditions or age restrictions.
Everyone who drives on company business, whether they are driving a commercial vehicle, company car or cash option (owner/grey fleet) driver will need to provide their consent for you to use a service which approaches the DVLA for their records.
Although it may be tempting to use information provided in employee’s file, such as their National Insurance number or driving licence details, to access the information, this is in breach of the data protection requirements and information should only be accessed with the driver’s permission.
There are predominantly two ways of gathering permission from your drivers\owners of the vehicles you wish to check, these are either through a traditional wet signature consent form, or through electronic consent.
A traditional wet signature consent form is provided to the driver and they will need to complete and return these to you. Consent lasts for 3 years or until employment of the driver ceases, this allows you to conduct a regular schedule of licence checks to ensure your fleet is fully compliant with the legislation.
E-Consent or electronic consent is essentially the consent process as described above but on-line. This removes the need for drivers to print and sign a physical consent form; however they will still need to authenticate themselves on line by confirming data already known by your company. Once this authentication has been established the driver gives authority or consent by submitting an on-line form.
The validity period of electronic consent is identical to the traditional process – 3 years but only drivers who have a DVLA issued licence can use it. Foreign drivers or those with a DVANI Licence must still use the traditional consent form process.
No – The need to ensure employees are compliant with the law exceeds employed drivers, stretching to all persons whom undertake “business journeys” on behalf of your company’s activities. This extends to temporary staff and volunteers. Should your business also use contractors, you will need to evidence checks have been completed.
For clarity a “Business Journey” could be defined as driving to a client site, an airport prior to a business trip or to a railway station for an annual conference, as well as travelling between different work locations which do not form part of a daily journey to work.
Checking a licence is not as straightforward as it seems – drivers have been known in the past to submitted forgeries, doctored photocopies or duplicate copies obtained in advance of a court appearance – so although they appear to have a ‘clean’ licence, the reality may be very different – leaving you and your business exposed to risk. In addition to this, now that the licence counterpart has been removed, the only way to evidence of endorsement information is through an on-line portal which has a direct link to the DVLA and DVA NI.
Once you have gathered consent from the driver/vehicle owner to access their records, and by using a DVLA / DVA NI approved portal, you will be able to verify the details submitted to you, allowing you to be confident that you have the most up to date record.
Any concerns highlighted by the DVLA such as expiring categories, licences, photo cards or revoked licences will be brought to your attention allowing you to discuss the status of the driver’s licence, and to put a plan in place to rectify the situation.
Employees who use their own vehicles for business purposes offers several benefits of not having to manage the overheads associated with a transport operation. But the risks to your business are still significant if not effectively managed and you still have a duty to comply with the law.
As the employer you still hold the “duty of care” under health and safety law, for any vehicle which is operated for business purposes regardless of ownership. Causing or allowing an individual to operate a vehicle which may be in poor condition, without a valid driving licence or without valid insurance is against the law.
The administration involved for a company wishing to undertake licence checking can be very time consuming. It will depend on the size of your fleet, the time it takes you to gather employee consent, the type of consent provided and submission to the DVLA/DVA NI. The timescales for this are further extended when a company doesn’t have direct access to the DVLA/DVA NI database.
However, this process can be simplified by using a licence checking verification company that uses services provided by the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licence Agency). In this scenario the speed at which licence checks can be provided will depend on the type of consent provided.
For a signed wet signature consent, results are available on the same day – this is mainly due to the increased time it takes to process a wet signature form. Where consent has been provided through electronic methods i.e. licence checking portal, the processing time is significantly reduced, with DVLA check results being available in minutes.
Drivetime have partnered with market leader Licence Bureau to offer an online licence checking service which takes the administrative burden out of the licence checking process, especially if you have a large fleet, helping your business to comply with health and safety legislation and reducing risk by automatically checking your drivers’ licences against DVLA licence data. In the process saving you time and resource better spent elsewhere.
To get started fill out our quick and easy 1-page web form, where one of our specialists will contact you with further details and a no obligation quote.