Firms could be liable for driver calls on the move

Employers
could face prosecution under new Government proposals if police catch their
staff using phones while driving.

Companies
that "cause or permit" staff to use mobile phones without hands-free
sets while driving will be charged if the legislation is introduced.

Staff
could escape the £30 fixed penalty or court-imposed fine of up to £1,000, if
they can prove their employer expected them to take or make calls at the wheel.

David
Jamieson, road safety minister, claims that employees fielding work-based calls
while driving are the worst offenders.

"It
is quite common, especially for delivery drivers and others who are very often
on the roads. The Government is saying that it is outrageous."

The
CIPD urged HR professionals to protect employers by banning all phone calls
while driving. Diane Sinclair, lead adviser on public policy at the CIPD, said:
"Employers need to make it clear to staff, particularly to those that do a
lot of driving as part of their work, that they should not make or receive
calls using a hand-held phone while driving. Employees must pull over and
switch off the engine if they want to use a mobile."

Sinclair
also wants employers to offer extra training and a risk assessment to staff who
spend a great deal of time on the road as part of their job. "Employers
have a duty under Health and Safety legislation to ensure that staff face as
little risk as possible in their everyday work," she said.

The
CBI is opposed the Government’s plans and believes they have serious implications
for employers.

By
Paul Nelson

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