THE HIGHWAY CODE – ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES READY?

31st January 2022

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by Abigail Reynolds, Chartered Legal Executive, Employment Law

On Saturday 29 January 2022, the Highway Code was amended to improve road safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Over 50 rules have been added or amended, including guidance that motorists are expected to give way to people crossing at a junction and a new rule that motorists should give priority to cyclists, horse riders and people driving horse-drawn vehicles at roundabouts.

The changes have been considered to be controversial, and there is an opinion among some road users that the changes have not been well-publicised. In this article, we address the changes and what it could mean for those employers who employ drivers.

Do I need to train my employees on the new Highway Code?

Employers owe a duty not only to their employees but can also be held liable for the negligent acts of their employees. This is known as vicarious liability.

It is widely accepted that an employee who has a valid UK driving licence should be expected to be aware of and comply with the Highway Code. This means that an employer may not necessarily be expected to provide a refresher course.

However, whilst it may not be strictly necessary, it may well be very sensible to put a course in place, or at the very least remind employees of the changes.

Vehicle and Driver Policy – do I need one?

It is always recommended that employers who employ staff who are expected to drive in the course of business have a policy in place to protect themselves and their employees in the event of a problem.

Problems may include accidents on the road, reports of road rage or even fixed penalty notices for traffic offences.

A company vehicle policy may include reference to good practice, a responsibility to maintain a vehicle and the need to take regular breaks. The extent of any vehicle and driver policy will depend on the nature of the business and may include, for example, a requirement for an employee to insure a vehicle they use in the course of business for business use.

There are many issues that can arise where an employee is driving in the course of their employment, so careful attention should be given to the policies in place. Particular care should be taken when drafting both a vehicle and driver policy and a disciplinary policy if it is anticipated that issues with drivers may arise.

Lastly, it is very important to note that, if an employer wanted to make a deduction from their employee’s wages, for example for a parking fine or a fixed penalty notice, they can only do so in the following circumstances:

  • If the contract specifically allows the deduction;
  • If it was agreed in writing beforehand;
  • If it is required by law, for example, due to a court order.

Protecting my business

If you have any concerns about your policies or contracts relating to drivers, it is recommended that you seek independent legal advice. This area can be very complicated and what is required will vary from employer to employer.

Our Employment Law specialists are here to assist with any questions or queries you may have. Please contact our employment team on 01945 461456.

 

Find out more about Abigail Reynolds

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This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek advice specific to your own circumstances.  Fraser Dawbarns LLP are always happy to provide such advice.

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