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Do you know your duty of care to employees?

By Darren Newton
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 - 11:00

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The vehicle is part of the workplace

Darren Newton, Chief Technology Officer at Software Europe, asks if companies are fully compliant in their duty of care to employees

Every week around 200 road deaths and serious injuries involve someone at work. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 considers the vehicle as part of the workplace and driving any vehicle on company business, regardless of ownership, is subject to this legislation. Companies therefore must take necessary measures to manage their duty of care obligations, taking into account key risks to a driver, the vehicle and the journey.

As an employer you have a responsibility to ensure that employee safety is not compromised through negligence and with business drivers 25-30 per cent more likely to have a collision than private drivers, according to the Occupational Road Safety Alliance, how well are you managing your duty of care obligations?

What is your duty of care?

Companies must be seen to take all reasonable action to minimise exposure to risk, so far as reasonably practicable, so at the very least you’d be expected to consider the risks, review policies and procedures and take steps for continual review and improvement. Checking an employee has a valid driving license, along with vehicle insurance – including business travel – and ensuring a vehicle is roadworthy and well maintained are key tasks.

These activities can prove to be an enormous administrative burden. Failure to check licenses, or reimburse expenses payments without adequate license checks could be interpreted as causing or permitting illegal behavior. So how can you tackle such an erroneous task without dedicating some serious administrative time and work?

Below are five steps to developing and implementing a good ‘duty of care’ process into your organisation, including developing new policies and finding the right technology to automate key tasks:

    • Update and communicate the policy
      Develop your policy and consider all aspects of driving. For example, around 10 per cent of accidents on main roads, and 20 per cent on motorways are caused by fatigue. Your company policy would need to encourage employees to take regular breaks on long journeys, and might even go so far as to advising overnight breaks if the distance travelled exceeds 300 miles.
    • Conduct road safety training
      Training shouldn’t just cover the company’s driving policy but also good and safe driving techniques.
    • Keep documented evidence
      There really is nothing more powerful you can do than to keep records to demonstrate you’ve taken every step necessary in ensuring a duty of care to your staff. Copies of driving licenses, MOT certificates, and vehicle service histories show you’ve taken the time to check that your employee is safe to drive.
    • Evaluate different systems
      Once you have all the relevant documentation from your employees, it would be worth considering how you plan on storing it. Digital copies will not only save time and space, but with the right technology solution, you can automate many of the lookup tasks such as driving license and MOT checks.Management reporting, such as in our Expenses cloud service, can help review employees who have a high risk profile or who incur high business miles and can deliver dashboards as reminders for document checks. With an estimated 1.6 million people carrying an out of data photo card driving license, a minimum yearly check should be implemented.
    • Monitor and audit
      Having considered the risks, implemented a policy, and started using a system to help manage your obligations, this whole process should be revisited and audited periodically.

Driving is considered as one of the most dangerous activities for employees when travelling and entertaining through the course of business. By taking steps to develop and maintain a good duty of care policy around driving you’re not only ensuring that you’re adhering to your legal obligations, you’re likely helping to improve the safety of your employees as well.

Darren Newton is Chief Technology Officer at Software Europe, a company dedicated to developing the best cloud solutions for customers to streamline business processes and reduce spend

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