As many of you will have read in the news this week Wayne Rooney, former England football captain, has received a two year driving ban after pleading guilty to drink driving. In addition to his official punishment, his club Everton have also reportedly fined him two weeks’ wages (approximately £300,000). The footballer is paying the price for his actions, but how would this be different if it was your employee that was convicted of a driving offence or banned from driving?
Do they have to tell you?
Many employers, particularly those with staff where driving is a large part of what they do, will have a clause in their contract that requires the employee to tell them if they are convicted of a driving offence. However there are still a large number of employers whose contracts are silent on the matter.
If any part of your employee’s role involves driving you must include this clause in their contract. If nothing else, so you can let your insurance company know and they can establish whether that employee will be allowed to continue to drive on the policy.
Can you dismiss them if they are banned?
You could be forgiven for assuming that if your employee drives as part of their role then a driving ban would give you a fair reason for dismissing them, but this is not necessarily the case.
It all comes down to what is reasonable in the circumstances. For example, if you dismiss a worker who does not drive for work and is able to attend work by public transport then this could be an unfair dismissal. By the same token, if they drive for work sporadically then you perhaps should make alternative arrangements for the duration of the ban. Even an employee for whom driving is integral to their role could be redeployed into a non-driving role (if one exists).
Factors taken into account to determine what is reasonable will include (but are not limited to) the following; the duration of the ban, how it will affect the employee’s work, if alternative arrangements can be made, the employee’s length of service and the consultation procedure you went through in reaching your decision to dismiss them.
Dismissal should always be your last resort. Remember, if the employee takes you to an employment tribunal there is no guarantee that your reasons will be sufficient.
Under what circumstances can you dismiss them?
It would be considered legally fair to dismiss an employee who is disqualified from driving where there is a statutory restriction which prevents the employment continuing.
An example of this is a taxi driver. If a taxi driver is convicted of a driving offence and loses their licence it would be unlawful for the employer to continue to employ the driver to fulfil their normal work duties because it is against the law to drive without a licence,
What if the offence took place in a company vehicle?
This changes things again and should be dealt with differently. If the employee was working at the time of the offence, and driving a company car then this is much more likely to be a misconduct issue. In which case this should be dealt with by your usual disciplinary procedure.
Is there anything else you can do?
It is now increasingly common for employers to include a term in their employment contracts that they must hold a valid UK driving licence. Then, if they lose their licence the employee is violating the terms of their employment contract and this can give cause for dismissal.