Employment and Abolition of the Driving Licence Counterpart

On 8 June 2015 the DVLA stopped issuing paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence. So what do employers need to do for employees who use a vehicle as part of their role?

On 8 June 2015 the DVLA stopped issuing paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence and existing paper counterparts no longer have any legal status (note that paper driving licences which do not have a photocard part are still valid). Many employers required employees to provide a copy of their paper counterpart on a regular basis as a way of ensuring the employee could continue to drive company vehicles and drive for business purposes. So how do employers ensure that their employees have a valid driving licence and check whether they have penalty points which may impact on their ability to drive company vehicles, rent a car for business use or get insurance?

The DVLA has introduced an online checking system which allows individuals to view their details including the up-to-date position regarding penalties and endorsements. This can also be done by post and telephone. There is also a separate online system, "Share Driving Licence", which enables individuals to give third parties access to their driving licence status, endorsements and what vehicles they can drive, e.g. an employer. The system will require an employee to request a one-time unique code online (which will be valid for only 21 days) and give it to their employer. The employer will use the code and check the employee's details. Arrangements can also be made for an employer to check an employee's driving licence via telephone and post but it is essential for the employee to be involved in the process and give the DVLA permission for the employee to access their driving licence.

Alternatively, employees could be asked to provide a print out of their record from the online system.

Practically this new system could cause employers headaches and changes may need to be made to contracts and policies. Accordingly, it is a good time for employers to review their practices and policies and ensure that adequate procedures are in place. The following should be considered:

  • If the employee is required to have a driving licence as a condition of their continuing employment, is this reflected in their employment contract?
  • If employees have company vehicles, is there a policy in place setting out who is responsible for what and what is expected from employees driving company cars, e.g.:
    • Can the car be used for personal use? If so, who will pay for personal mileage?
    • Other than the employee, who else can drive the vehicle?
    • Who will pay for fuel and how will this be managed, e.g. fuel card or reimbursement via expenses?
    • Who is responsible for:
      • running costs, repairs etc?
      • parking tickets?
  • How often are your employees' licences currently checked? Is this adequate for insurance purposes?
  • How will you check licences using the new system? Will you:
    • ask employees to provide a one-time code (thought will have to be given as to how this is managed in large organisations)?;
    • ask the employee to provide a print out of their record?; or
    • supervise an employee accessing the system and thereafter print a copy of the record to ensure the printed copy is not tampered with in any way (only an option if the employee works onsite and may not be viable in large organisations)?
  • What action will you take if the check uncovers penalty points/lack of valid licence?
    • Avoid "knee jerk" reactions and investigate what effect the points will have and whether there are alternative ways for the employee to travel if the employee cannot drive a company car or hire a vehicle for business.
    • Does your disciplinary policy cover this?
    • Do you have a car policy which covers this?

For more information on this or any other employment law issues please Employment specialist Amy Jones on 01382 229111 or by email ajones@thorntons-law.co.uk

Categories: Employment

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