Without the permit, effectively a secondary licence, no staff at engineering supplier Barnes may drive the company's vehicles or use their own vehicles on business. And by applying for the permit, each employee accepts strict vetting of their fitness to drive and undertakes to observe the company's driving safety policy, with re-tests every year.
Barnes is giving its licence only after a rigorous confidential check of each of its employees' driving records, driving licence status, relevant medical condition, accident, insurance and car care histories.
It is then asking for signed acceptance of the company's driving and car care requirements. The process applies to all, including directors, who drive a Barnes vehicle or for Barnes in another vehicle, such as employees driving their own cars on the firm's business.
Wives, partners and children also have to obtain a licence if they want to drive one of the company's cars. The requirement is now a condition of employment.
Traditionally, staff with company cars can allow them to be driven by (suitably qualified) immediate members of their families.
Called the Driver Compliance Programme, it has been designed by a panel of legal and occupational road risk experts assembled by nationwide business vehicle management specialist Fleet Support Group (FSG), based in Chippenham, Wilts.
At the fleet's request, its vetting process is being managed by FSG to ensure impartiality.
FSG is also maintaining confidential on-going driver records and vehicle histories for Barnes to access privately and securely.
For each permit applicant a Driver Operating Life Report produces a detailed driver/driving status.
It records annual licence inspection and status, driving convictions, accident claims, vehicle damage reports, insurance status, vehicle inspection and condition, acknowledgement of driver vehicle care and confirmation of driver compliance with company driving policy.
The scheme, which covers 170 drivers and a fleet of 55 cars and 60 vans, stipulates that drivers are re-tested on an annual basis. Drivers have to sign the licence saying they are fit to drive and agree with the company's driving safety policy. If employees end up having their licences withdrawn for any reason, then Barnes can provide tuition to resolve the issue.
Jeremy Jarvis, finance director at Barnes, said: 'Our objective is not to deny permission but to take every step possible to ensure that Barnes has the safest drivers.
'The company is taking all reasonable steps to ensure that vehicles driven in conducting business meet current legislative requirements and that the drivers are legally entitled and fit to drive.
'With best professional advice Barnes has redefined its long-established vehicle safety policy so that the company and its drivers have the means to demonstrate and prove their commitment to care on the road.'