Fleet News

Meridian warns fleets not to neglect contract workers' duty of care

Phil Jerome, managing director of Meridian Vehicle Solutions

Fleet decision-makers should ensure they treat contract workers with company cars the same as their full-time counterparts to ensure they meet duty-of-care requirements, says Meridian.

The medium-term rental provider said evidence suggests people employed for shorter periods are not given as attention as their full-time colleagues.

Organisations need to address this as an employer’s legal responsibilities are the same regardless of how long their contract is for, said Phil Jerome, managing director at Meridian.

He said: “We have some insight into this sector because contract workers are one of the key markets for medium-term rental company cars.

“What tends to happen is something similar to grey fleet situations, where it is simply tricky to put processes and procedures in place for contract workers, as well as to enforce those standards because the driver is only with an employer for a short time.

“It might be easy to get someone on a six-month contract to sign the company car handbook and present their licence for initial but it is far more difficult to get them to conduct regular walkaround checks of the vehicle, for example.

“Most of these problems are caused simply by the fact there is a limited amount of employer influence over someone who will only be with the company for a few months. Most sanctions will have a restricted effect.”

Jerome added: “Our advice to fleets in this situation tends to be very straightforward – there is a whole spectrum of risk within a fleet ranging from core fleet to grey fleet to affinity schemes and medium-term rental – and that your duty of care needs to be appropriate for each kind of driver but enforced without compromise across the board.

“This can only be done with genuine managerial buy-in that means anyone who doesn’t comply with the procedures you set faces definite sanctions that are sufficient to form an effective deterrent.”

Earlier this year, Licence Check warned that untested foreign drivers bring duty-of-care dangers after a Freedom of Information request found the number of non-British drivers trading in their licence for a UK one has risen 79% in a decade.

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