Fleet News

‘Worrying gap’ in duty of care

UP to a third of UK HR and finance directors are unaware their company has duty-of-care responsibilities over personal cars used by employees for business purposes.

But the survey of 150 directors found that 89% of them see driver safety and corporate liability as a key issue.

Executives at leasing company LeasePlan, the firm behind the survey, suggest its findings show a ‘worrying gap’ in the understanding of issues surrounding employers’ duty of care.

The survey also demonstrates the vital role of the professional fleet manager to make their firm aware that it is legally responsible for the condition and safety of all vehicles used for work-related journeys, irrespective of whether they are company or privately owned cars.

LeasePlan managing director David Brennan said: ‘A firm’s duty of care to its at-work drivers has been one of the hottest topics in business circles for several years. With corporate manslaughter laws on the horizon, firms are beginning to understand that employees have to be in safe, well-maintained and suitable vehicles.

‘However, these findings suggest that many have still to fully understand the scope of that liability. Employees who opt out of company car schemes may still need to drive for work, so sometimes buy their own vehicles.

‘The trouble is that employers then have far less control over the maintenance and condition of those cars and if an employee is in an accident, a business could still find itself facing litigation if the vehicle is deemed poorly maintained and unsuitable.’

Mr Brennan said some leasing companies offer a service to track the condition of such vehicles but said a simpler plan would be to encourage cash-takers back into traditional company cars.

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