Read this before you hire someone for a driving role

Written by Jennifer Ormond
19 July, 2023
What to consider before you hire employees for driving roles

Hiring employees for driving roles or offering existing employees new roles which require driving requires careful attention to ensure legal compliance, safety, and protection of the business’s reputation.

In this article, we will discuss why employers need to check driving licenses, what to look for during the check, when to conduct these checks, the importance of licence verification, handling points on licences, previous bans, employee obligations, and the inclusion of relevant policies in the employee handbook. We will also address the topic of vehicle tracking systems.

Why Employers Need to Check Driving Licences

Employers must check driving licenses for several important reasons:

  • Legal compliance: It is a legal requirement in the UK for individuals to hold a valid driving license appropriate for the vehicle they operate.
  • Insurance obligations: Businesses will be obligated to check the driving license to ensure compliance with their insurance policies.
  • Safety considerations: Verifying driving licenses allows employers to assess a candidate’s driving capabilities, ensuring they have the necessary skills and experience to operate vehicles safely. This helps minimise the risk of accidents and protects the well-being of employees and the public.

What Employers Should Look for When Checking Driving Licences

During the license check, employers should focus on the following key aspects:

  • Ensure the license is current, valid, and relevant to the type of vehicle the employee will be driving.
  • Confirm that the license permits the employee to drive the specific category of vehicles required for their role.
  • Check if there are any points or driving limitations and whether you need to inform your insurers. Depending on the severity and relevance to the role, consider the impact of these on the employee’s ability to perform their duties safely.
  • Check for any record of previous driving bans. You can ask the person to explain the circumstances and consider whether to continue with the offer of employment or the new role.

The Direct Gov website has a really useful tool for employers to check licences, click here to follow the steps.  The employee will need to provide a check code which they can share with you by following the steps detailed here.

When Employers Should Check Driving Licences

For new recruits, driving license checks should be conducted as part of the recruitment process before offering the job.

For existing employees, it should be checked whilst discussing the new role or considering them for it.

The benefit of checking the driving licence during the recruitment process is that no notice is due to be paid, whereas if a business waits until the start of employment (such as whilst a week of induction takes place) some notice could be due if the contract of employment confers a right to notice from day 1.

Problems Which Arise During Employment

Points Accumulated During Employment

If an employee receives points on their driving license during their employment, they should notify their employer promptly and there should be an obligation on employees to report any driving licence changes within a set number of days.

Read on to see how differently you can manage this with employees who have less (or more than) two years service.

Employee with under two years service caught driving dangerously

Employees with under two years service do not have general protection under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and therefore in many circumstances, employers can dismiss without a process or without relying on a potentially fair reason.

Employers should always exercise caution as we are seeing an increase in “short service dismissals” where employees seek to rely on some other explanation for their dismissal and use that to enable them to issue proceedings in the Employment Tribunal despite not having two years service.

Employees with less two years service should be informed of the reason for dismissal and it should be communicated to them in writing.  This will definitely assist with future disputes.  The real reason for dismissal should not be hidden – it does not pay to be nice!

Employee with over two years service loses ability to drive

Employees with over two years service have the right not to be unfairly dismissed.  This means that not only do employees have to follow a fair process to dismiss but they need to have one of five potentially fair reasons.  Conduct (poor driving) could be a reason.  Illegality (the driver lost their licence) could be another.  Either way, the employee is entitled to a proper investigation and to be formally invited to a disciplinary hearing.

The ACAS Code of Practice should be followed and the reason for dismissal must be within the band of reasonable responses open to an employer.  It can be hard to dismiss and employee with over two years service so we recommend checking with us and even considering whether you need to have legal expenses insurance in place.

 

Case Study: driver narrowly misses elderly pedestrian  

Unfortunately, where employees are tasked with driving, errors do happen.  Whether it be due to rushing, not concentrating or just bad driving, we can assist.  Take a look at a case study where a HGV tanker driver very narrowly missed a pedestrian with a pushchair here.

Other things to think about

We have a handy free download guide available here on The Importance of Vehicle Documents which can be downloaded here.  It sets out all the different records we recommend you hold as a business which uses vehicles.

Over the years, our experience has shown the benefit to great documentation and how it assists when needed for disciplinary processes, insurance claims and other sticky situations with staff.  Where employees have over two years service, to discipline and dismiss there has to be:

  • a reasonable investigation;
  • leading to a reasonable belief;
  • of the employee’s misconduct

The best way to achieve a reasonable belief in the misconduct is to have good evidence and a paper trail or accountability. Download this guide for more detail.

Employee Handbook Policies

Every business should issue an employee handbook and implement policies which set out the following:

  1. Vehicle damage: Clearly outline the procedure for reporting and addressing any damages to company vehicles, regardless of fault, to ensure timely resolution and prevent disputes.
  2. Poor driving: Communicate the expected standards of conduct while driving and set out the need for responsible driving, adherence to traffic rules, and representing the company professionally.
  3. Company cars: Specific rules as regards to what a company may be used for and who is responsible for MOT, tax, insurance etc
    Vehicle Tracking Systems

You (the employer!) are permitted to install tracking systems in your vehicles for legitimate business purposes, such as monitoring driver safety, ensuring compliance with policies, and optimising route planning. However, you must inform employees about the presence and purpose of tracking systems, to respecting their privacy rights.

Is it OK to use in-cab CCTV Footage?

Yes!

Watch some in-cab CCTV footage of a bad overtake – it was very lucky that nobody was hurt.  One of our lawyers, Kevin goes on to explain in a case study how we assisted the client and dismissed the employee.

Watch another one of our lawyers, Jen, talk about in-cab CCTV over on our TIk Tok page here.

You can use in-cab CCTV, including facing inwards(!) so long as:

  1. You are implementing them for a valid reason, such as ensuring driver safety
  2. You consider the aim, such as ensuring a driver is not using their phone when driving
  3. You demonstrate that you have thought about the risk to drivers
  4. You minimise the risk to drivers, such as reducing the invasion of their privacy (perhaps use video only, not audio)
  5. Think about how the data is stored
  6. Issue a GDPR policy

Or: get in touch with us to check whether you have considered all of the above correctly!

Conclusion

Hiring employees for driving roles requires careful consideration and on-going checks and monitoring.  There is also a higher risk of concerns due to driving complications and poor driving requiring additional management time.  We recommend that you ensure all documents are in place, hope things don’t go wrong but contact us when they do. Give the team a call on 01270 781006 or get in touch for a free HR review.

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