Why company car and van duty of care matters for everyone

Why company car and van duty of care matters for everyone

A surprising number of employers in smaller companies are unaware that, even if they operate just one company vehicle, they have a legal duty of care. This is no small responsibility. If there is an accident that results in the injury or death of any road user and you are found to have been negligent, you could be imprisoned. It’s that serious.

The legal thinking is fundamentally simple: a company car or van is a place of work and should be a safe environment in line with the Health and Safety at Work Act. As an employer, it is your task to manage and minimise any risk.

Your responsibilities can be divided into three key areas – the driver, the vehicle and the journey. We’re going to look at each of these in a series of blogs over the next few weeks, starting with the driver.

Anyone that you employ who uses a company vehicle or any other vehicle on company business, including their own, needs to be suitably qualified to drive. For commercial vehicles, this can be quite a complex area in itself. Also, simply having a standard driving licence isn’t sufficient to just hand over a car. If your driver has points on their licence, for example, they represent a heightened risk and this needs managing.

For this reason, you’ll need to inspect your drivers’ licences regularly and potentially even carry out third party checks to ensure that your employees are not being dishonest and hiding any on-the-road offences they may have committed.

A further necessity is to make employees aware of how you expect them to behave in respect of driving and their company vehicle, and a formal induction procedure and driver handbook that outlines these responsibilities is crucial. This is especially important when it comes to vehicle maintenance, something that we’ll look at in a later blog, as well as what to do in the event of an accident.

It’s critical to underline that we only have the space to cover duty of care in the broadest terms in these blogs and that they are really designed to get you thinking about the subject if you haven’t already done so. Employers should certainly seek out expert advice when it comes to making their own arrangements.

 

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