It is not unusual for small business owners to occasionally send an employee or two on errands. While this may be common practice for your organization, it is not a safe one. There are laws in place that specify how employers should govern any employees that are driving on company time. In addition to those laws, there are also risks associated with this practice that can open your business up to potential litigation. To keep your company in compliance with the law and to minimize any related risks, there are some things you should know about driving around on company time. Below are some common reasons why small business owners find themselves in court, dealing with some of the legal consequences of employees driving on company time.
Cell Phones and Mobile Devices
The use of cell phones and mobile devices has made it possible for employees to conduct their business while on the go. This may seem advantageous in terms of productivity. However, it is a risk that your company can do without. For example, if one of your workers decides to conduct business on a company-issued cell phone while they are driving on company time and they end up in an accident, not only can that employee be sued, but your business can be sued as well. Even if that employee is driving and not using the cellphone, as long as it is in their possession, your company can be held liable for any incidents that occur during and outside of business hours.
Small businesses are more likely to send employees on errands outside of the workplace than large corporations. Chances are your company has a designated errand person who is insured to operate the company vehicle or their own for company purposes. Occasionally that person may not be around. If you send someone else out on company time to perform a task and they are involved in an accident, your company could be on the hook for any damages. There may also be other legal issues that arise because of the mess that is created.
Ways to Protect Your Business
While it may be unavoidable to have employees drive around on company time, there are things you can do to minimize any risks that are associated with the task.
Establish Clear Guidelines
Set strict rules and limits on cell phone and mobile device use for employees who drive on company time. Make sure those regulations don’t conflict with any legal or employment standards. Consult a lawyer if necessary to ensure there is no conflict of interest when implementing those rules.
Make Sure All Drivers Have Valid Credentials
Verify all driving credentials. The last thing you want to end up dealing with is an incident in which an unlicensed employee is involved in an accident. The ramifications of the situation could be very challenging and expensive for your company to overcome.
Maintain Job Duty Designations
Adhere to all employee role and job duty designations. Do not allow employees who are not qualified or insured to drive or run errands while working for the company to do so.
Give Cell Phones and Mobile Devices Sparingly
Do not provide cell phones and mobile devices to all employees, especially if they are not essential nor required for them to perform their job duties. Remember, each cell phone and mobile device you give out is one more that puts your company at risk for legal issues.
Purchase Business Vehicle Insurance
Invest in business vehicle insurance. Although you may be trying to keep your expenses down, you can’t afford to leave your company exposed for risk and issues that arise from company drivers and employees who drive around on company time.
Take time to minimize your company’s liability by establishing guidelines that reduce the likelihood of negative issues that could arise from your employees driving while on the clock.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.