What is Duty of Care?

Simply put, duty of care for company car drivers and fleet managers generally equates to health and safety. Failing to follow the correct duty of care procedures can prove disastrous for a firm’s finances and reputation.

A company is not only responsible for the safety of an employee driving on business, it can also be held liable for their actions. Let’s say an employee was caught speeding. In this case that employee would be held solely responsible. That is, unless the speeding was caused by unreasonable scheduling by the employer. In such circumstances both parties could be found liable. What if the speeding caused a member of the public to be injured or worse?

That is why all fleet managers are required to follow duty of care requirements to safeguard staff, vehicles and the general business, ensuring both employees and members of the public, do not suffer unreasonable or foreseeable work-related harm or loss.

Your company must ensure drivers have safe, operational vehicles that they are qualified and competent to drive on journeys which have been planned with safety in mind. This should be underpinned by a robust health and safety policy, reviewed and agreed regularly by all drivers, covering a minimum of three main areas: drivers, vehicles and journeys.

Duty of Care for Vehicle Safety

Your fleet manager must consider its vehicles as places of work and ensure that the vehicles offered to your employees are fit for purpose, prioritise safety and are appropriate for the journeys and weather conditions required.

Current legislation means that if you need vehicles for business purposes they must be serviced, inspected and maintained according to official schedules, repaired as soon as required, and properly insured at all times. This is regardless of whether the vehicle is a company car, funded through a car allowance, or even a privately owned vehicle of an employee.

Depending on the structure of your organisation and the way vehicles are used, your fleet manager or a fleet management company such as Wessex Fleet can devise a bespoke programme for you, ensure the business’ duty of care responsibilities are met, and that all vehicles are fit for purpose, fully serviced, MOT’d, taxed and insured. In the event of an incident you will be able to show that your employees and the vehicles they drive are operated and managed in a responsible manner.

VMCs are checks that drivers themselves have to complete. As part of our fleet management and vehicle maintenance services Wessex Fleet offer a system for drivers to complete regular and thorough checks of their vehicle. (Find out more in our Vehicle Maintenance Checks guide.)

Drivers must also ensure that their tyres are in good condition and at the correct pressure, and that fluids such as oil, coolant and windscreen washer fluid are kept topped up.

An employee must also inform their fleet manager immediately if their vehicle is lost or stolen, malfunctioning, vandalised or similar.  If the driver is stopped and charged with a driving offence they must tell their employer immediately.

Duty of Care for Driver Safety

During the hiring process, you should ensure proper vetting systems are in place, including licence checks, enabling you to select reliable candidates, capable of responsible fleet driving.

We advise checking your drivers' licences when they initially start with the business, if they will potentially be required to be in charge of a vehicle as part of their role, and then annually after this. 

If driving is a more essential part of your employees' roles then we would recommend checking licences more regularly, for example quarterly. 

Find out more about how to undertake driving licence checks in our business guide to carrying out driving licence checks.

You’ll need to provide drivers with a comprehensive safety induction, written guidelines and training which highlights all safety procedures, and ask drivers to acknowledge and sign them, with reviews and retraining where necessary.  A clear channel of communication must be established for drivers to report accidents or safety concerns.

Driver training can take the form of one to one vehicle training, in person classroom training or online training and assessment. Wessex Fleet can offer these individually or create a bespoke driver training programme for your drivers, providing you with a full process audit for your entire fleet. A mixture of practical and online assessments with full reporting give you comprehensive insight into your drivers' areas of strength and weakness.

Duty of Care for Journey Safety

A driver’s scheduling should be reasonable and worked out in advance, allowing them to prepare for a long journey and plan where they can stop for breaks to avoid fatigue. It is vital that a driver isn’t forced to speed between appointments through a lack of reasonable time having been appointed between each one.

Clear communication channels need to be provisioned so that drivers can relay any concerns about their journeys. Technology to monitor journeys is important so that the data can be used to ensure duty of care requirements are being met.

 Telematics can help ensure your vehicles and drivers are kept safe through the use of devices such as GPS tracking and alarm systems. These not only allow you to locate the vehicle if it is stolen but can also be used to pull reports on the driving patterns, where the vehicle is left parked for extended times and any safety concerns that this might flag up.

To find out more about how Telematics can help your business visit our fleet logistics page.

Wessex Fleet Duty of Care Programmes

We can help you fulfil your duty of care obligations, whether you need outsourced expertise just in one of the areas detailed in this guide, or end-to-end duty of care management.

Our duty of care programmes can include:

  • Full online vehicle maintenance checks and condition reports
  • Full reporting capability
  • A complete audit trail with minimal paperwork
  • Full driver management including regular, continual licence checks
  • Comprehensive driver training
  • Bespoke driver monitoring




Contact Wessex Fleet