Learning Zone

Licence checking advice

By Sarah Wilkinson
22 January 2021

Making sure your employees’ driving licences are valid is essential – here’s six things we think you should know…


1. Driving without a licence is illegal

You may think we’re stating the obvious, but driving without a licence is illegal. However, we know of cases where businesses have got into trouble after discovering too late that their employee didn’t have a valid licence.

So it’s essential you ensure your employees are legally eligible to drive the class of vehicle they are operating. You should check an employee’s licence when they join the company, at regular points throughout their employment, and before handing them they keys to any vehicle which they will use for work.

According to a survey conducted by CLM – the largest professional association in the insurance industry – 16% of firms fail to perform any driver licence checks at all, which is an incredibly high figure!

2. Regular checks are vital

We recommend that you carry out checks at least once a year for all drivers who hold a clean licence. However, there are a number of other factors that should be considered during the decision-making process. These include:

  • Annual mileage
  • Accident rate
  • Penalty points
  • Endorsements accumulated
  • A driver’s date of birth

The reason to do these checks is because, sadly, not all employees are honest. An RAC Insurance survey found that 18% of drivers would not inform their insurer if they picked up penalty points, and only 13% of those questioned would tell their employer.

So it pays to be safe. And don’t worry about the added work it will create – the use of Driver Licence Checking software can simplify this process, letting you define multiple parameters to build rules for checking frequencies.

3. Free one-off checks

If you just need to check one licence, the DVLA provides a ‘one-time’ web check service for businesses and organisations called ‘Share Driving Licence’. However, this requires both your employee and you to log-in each time a check is performed – so this isn’t an option if you’ve got to check multiple licences.

Alternatively, you can:

  • Conduct a check by telephone – but you will need to ask the driver to call the DVLA and leave permission
  • Request a check by post – but both you and the driver will need to fill in a form and provide a payment of £5

In our opinion, the best solution is to use licence checking software – this eliminates risk, reduces the cost and time of manual checks, and lets you check hundreds of licences with no added administration.

All of this will not only help you, but could also steer you away from court if one of your employees had an accident and was found to not have a valid licence. The consequences of this are tough – high fines for your business, and possible jail time for the person responsible for the fleet.

4. Respect the data protection laws

Act smart, protect yourself and your drivers…

Data protection laws do exactly what they say on the tin – they protect both you and your employees.  Driving licence data is personal to the individual in question and, as such, access to and use of this data is clearly defined by the General Data Protection Regulation.

What this means is that you must receive informed consent from the driver in question prior to accessing their data, and – equally so – that they record this consent.

And be warned – if you don’t ask permission you could be landed with a hefty fine, and failure to record consent could lead to a lack of defence if a driver is to later report their employer.

5. Shape a strategy

We recommend that you incorporate licence checking into your overall fleet risk management policy.

Data-led risk profiling can offer great value in helping reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring and can also help to manage the aftermath and keep costs down when incidents take place. But it’s vital that the profiles you collect can be quickly built and easily measured.

Before compiling a strategy, ask yourself these questions:

  • Drivers – which ones present the highest risk?
  • Experience – how long have they been driving, and what type of terrains are they used to?
  • Accident rate – have they had many accidents? If yes, are there any patterns?
  • Training – what training has each driver received? Do they need training?
  • Mileage – does the driver embark on long or short haul journeys?
  • Licence history – have the DVLA flagged any other issues?

Don’t take this list as being exhaustive; there are many other factors to consider when creating driver profiles and allocating risk scores.

But the hard work will be worthwhile – once complete, driver scores can be used to select ‘high risk’ drivers and put them on to appropriate courses to improve their driving. And for those that show no improvement, you could use this as a disciplinary tool.

6. The right side of the law

In light of new guidelines that were introduced in 2016, driver licence checking has never – from a legal perspective – been more important.

Did you know that…

  • A company that fails to complete the necessary checks and lets an employee drive on behalf of the business without a valid licence can be fined up to £1,000
  • Under the Health & Safety Work Act 1974, employers can be prosecuted for this offence

In our opinion, this is another valuable (as opposed to costly!) reason to invest in driver licence checking software.

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