THE legislation governing company cars and corporate manslaughter law changed on 6 April 2008.
The new law is the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
The new corporate manslaughter act makes it easier to prosecute companies and organisations when a gross corporate failure in health and safety causes death – which includes the running of company cars, and those who run their private cars on business.
The corporate manslaughter act covers failures in the “management” of health and safety, not just health and safety violations.
It applies to all companies, including the smallest start-up enterprise, but not individuals.
However, the 2007 act works alongside older legislation, which makes provision for prosecuting directors and senior managers in exceptional circumstances.
Under the 2007 act, guilty corporations face an unlimited fine. So it’s essential that you have sufficient safeguards in place to make sure you have fully met the health and safety obligations towards your employees – and that includes everyone who drives on business, not just company vehicle drivers.
Colin Tourick of fleet management consultancy Colin Tourick & Associates sounds a warning: “One of my clients controls the risks well among its company car drivers and staff who take a cash allowance. It ensures both groups have up-to-date driving licences, all the cars are insured, regularly serviced, have MoTs and so on.
“However, it has more than twice as many employees who make at least one claim for driving on business mileage in private cars every year and the company has no controls over this group whatsoever – even though the Health and Safety Executive would be as interested in a driving-for-work fatal accident by one of these cars as it would for one of the company cars.
“Employers must realise that health and safety procedures have to extend to this large group of drivers as well.”
Help is at hand for small businesses, though. The Health and Safety Executive has produced an easy to read pdf called Driving at Work – Managing work-related road safety which is really useful for managing company cars and Corporate Manslaughter.
You can also read our story here: Corporate Manslaughter Act and duty of care.
The Corporate Manslaughter Act: main points
- Effective from 06 April 2008
- Easier to prosecute companies, irrespective of size
- Partnerships with employees included under the law
- Unlimited fine if health & safety failure causes death
- Includes failures in health & safety “management”
- Changes do not target individuals
- Works alongside pre-existing corporate manslaughter law…
- …This can target individuals in extreme circumstances