Industry experts warn that employers – and individual managers – who allow an employee to drive without a valid licence could be held responsible.
Research into unlicensed driving completed by the Department for Transport (DfT) last year found that the time spent by unlicensed drivers on the road equates to 553,000 hours per month.
Those polled in the research agreed employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees are driving legally.
The research states: 'Many administrators or experts, as well as perpetrators, considered that employers have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are driving legally and are properly licensed if their job involves having to drive.
'This included those for whom driving was their primary work task as well as those for whom driving was only a part of their job.
'It was considered that driving licence checks should be made when first employing a member of staff, and from to time time thereafter. Therefore, we recommend the following. Employers should be required through health and safety regulations to check their employees' driving licences when taking on new staff and periodically afterwards if driving is a part of the job.'
Tony Round, sales and marketing manager of driving licence verification service The Licence Bureau, which provides fleets with an electronic licence checking system, says employers must check licences.
He said: 'Every employer has a statutory and moral obligation to its staff and other road users to verify an employees' entitlement to drive.'
Round added: 'Our service is designed to fulfil that obligation, reducing the administrative burden on employers and the risk of prosecution.
'Our system is programmed to generate reminders whenever a re-check is due and we can conduct checks periodically over the three-year term at regular intervals agreed with the employer.'
For a copy of the Department for Transport's research called Research into Unlicensed Driving – Final Report (Road Safety Research Report 48) – visit www.dft.gov.uk