There a huge risks for fleet operators when drivers are not insured. The onus is on the employer to ensure that their drivers are safe, licenced and insurable. If one of your drivers is involved in an accident and is found to have an invalid licence they will not be covered by your insurance policy. You could lose your operator licence under the Corporate Manslaughter Act, the Road Traffic Act 1988, and the Health and Safety at Work Act. Clearly the risk for employers is great, and it should be standard procedure to check your drivers’ licences on a monthly basis. It really should be done that frequently to ensure that penalties have not been incurred, and that the licence is still valid.
The liability of the employer for their drivers even extends to those you contract. The owner of the fleet vehicle may be given notice of penalties incurred, but the operator will not. You need to weigh up the risk of allowing for self-disclosure by your drivers – with the subsequent risk of job loss – or take the matter into your own hands. Regular vehicle licence checks are the only way to ensure that your fleet drivers are legal. Whilst it is a tiresome procedure, there really is no other way. There is a high rate of drivers still working on revoked or expiring licences – around 1-300 according to the DVLA.
Let’s look at some of those legal risks to the employer in more detail:
Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) – under this Act, fleet operators have a Duty of Care, which means they must ensure the health and safety of all employees whilst at work. This means only employing drivers who are legally entitled to drive and are thus covered by insurance.
Road Traffic Act (1988) Section 3 – This part of the Act states that it is an offence to cause or permit any person to drive a motor vehicle of any class without the relevant licence. Are you sure that the licence your drivers hold are for the right class of vehicle? If not, the insurance will not be valid for that employee and you as the fleet operator will be fully liable.
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (2007) - Any death on the road caused by an unlicenced driver would leave your company exposed to prosecution under this act, on the grounds of ‘gross failure in the management of health and safety with fatal consequences’.
There has been a reported increase in the number of fake licences on the market. Drivers with 12 or more points on their licence are automatically disqualified, and faced with the loss of their livelihood, a significant proportion are tempted to find a way round the system. Are you sure that every driver you employ has a legitimate licence?