Fleet News

Small firms ignore employees’ safety

NEW research shows that two-thirds of small to medium-sized businesses do not ensure employees’ cars used for work are properly maintained and insured.

If employees are in an accident and the car is found to be faulty, their firms have been warned that they could face huge fines, damaging publicity and even prosecution for corporate manslaughter.

The results come from a survey into business transport undertaken by Enterprise Rent-A-Car in association with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The survey quizzed 500 UK employers on their attitudes and policies towards work-related motoring.

Some 67% said staff used their own cars for work often or very often, and six out of 10 were happy for them to do so.

But 42% did not even check that driving staff had a valid licence and one in three companies whose staff often made business trips by car admitted they never asked employees to carry out vehicle safety checks before a journey. This rose to 38% among businesses with fewer than 26 employees.

Stephen Alambritis, head of parliamentary affairs at the FSB, said: ‘Companies need to ensure all the vehicles used by staff, from minis to minibuses, are well-maintained, safe and fit for their intended purpose.

‘They also need to be certain that their employees are fit, and trained if necessary, to drive them. We advise all small businesses to take a long, hard look at their transport policies and to create one if they haven’t already.’

Brice Adamson, UK & Ireland managing director at Enterprise, said: ‘A lot of SME employers are setting themselves up for major legal problems. SMEs have enough on their plate without having to deal with avoidable health and safety dilemmas.’

Survey findings

  • 56% of small to medium-sized companies with a transport policy reported that profits were up from last year, compared with 48% of firms with no policy in place
  • 27% of SMEs with a policy reported that staff retention was up, as opposed to 22% of those without
  • 41% of SMEs cover employees’ additional car insurance requirements if those staff are using their own cars for work-related journeys
  • 27% do not have any formal company policy on business travel, which rose to 35% among SMEs with fewer than 26 staff
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