When does your driver start working for you?
The Health and Safety Executive defines a work-related journey as any work-related driving that is not simply travelling to and from the employee’s usual place of work.
This includes visiting clients or suppliers or working from a different office.
So strictly speaking if an employee is travelling directly from home to carry out work for a client at their premises, they are working for you from the moment they hit the road and you as their employer are responsible for their health and safety.
It doesn’t matter whether they are driving their own vehicle or a company-owned or -leased vehicle, the employer’s responsibility remains the same.
The law requires them to assess risks and take reasonably practicable precautions.
The employer must therefore have clear and robust work-related road safety policies and regularly check all drivers’ licences and the insurance cover for those using their own vehicles as it must include business use.
The business must have policies on mobile phone and in-car technology and on health and fitness to drive.
Crucially, having the policies is not considered to be enough. You must ensure that you actively promote road safety and ensure policies are communicated to every employee.
If necessary, you should ensure drivers have training in safe driving, and it can also benefit your company’s finances if you arrange for them to have training in economical driving to minimise fuel bills and expenses claims!
Interestingly, the recognition that employers have a duty of care for their employees has begun to be accepted by those companies, such as courier companies, where drivers are generally classified as self-employed and therefore have no entitlement to holiday or sick pay.
Recently the delivery company DPD announced that it would offer its 6,000 couriers the right to be classed as “eitherworkers”, an interim status that includes paid holiday, sick pay and access to a pension scheme with the possibility to still be paid per delivery, as a fully-fledged employee.
The decision came after a driver collapsed at the wheel of his van having missed three appointments with specialists to treat kidney damage from his diabetes because he felt under pressure to cover his round and faced DPD’s £150 daily penalties if he did not find a replacement driver.
Following the DPD decision CEO Dwain McDonald, said: “We recognise that we need to improve the way we work with our drivers. While the self-employed franchise scheme has benefited thousands of drivers over the past 20 years, it hasn’t moved with the times and needs updating. Our plan is to completely transform our overall driver offer, as well as the day-to-day working relationship we have with our drivers.” (our italics)
While his comments do not, yet, refer to the employer’s duty of care under Health and Safety regulation, the fact remains that most such drivers, whatever their employment status, are driving vehicles bearing the courier company livery and wearing company uniforms and surely, therefore, the “employer” business has a duty to ensure they are able to drive safely and efficiently, presenting no risk to themselves or other road users.