Employers Liability For Employees Using Mobile Phones Whilst Driving
Posted on by Angela Rhodes
It became a criminal offence to use a hand-held phone or similar device whilst driving on 1st December, 2003. This includes using a hand-held device not only for a telephone call but also for accessing any data such as the internet, email, text messages etc. In order to be “hands-free”, the phone must not be held at any point during its use. A phone with voice activation or one that is attached to fixed speakers and has no requirement for the user to hold it in use is acceptable. It is also an offence for someone to require or to cause or permit another person to use a hand-held device whilst driving so the employer could be held criminally liable if they require or allow an employee to use a handheld phone whilst diving on business. If you have employees who are required to drive as part of their duties and are expected to maintain contact with customers or the office whilst driving, they must be provided with appropriate hands-free equipment. Many argue that simply supplying a hands-free kit however is insufficient because carrying out a telephone conversation whilst driving can be a distraction. You would be better to encourage employees to stop regularly and listen to messages and return calls whilst stationary. The engine should be switched off as a person can still be regarded as driving a vehicle if the engine is running, even if the vehicle is stationary. Many of our clients have introduced policies expressly prohibiting employees from using any form of mobile phone whilst driving as part of their job duties, making it clear that any employee who breaches this policy is likely to face disciplinary action because of the potential health and safety implications. Make sure that all employees are familiar with your policies and procedures on driving on company business and have received the necessary training on safe driving standards.
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