Graham Hurdle blog:29 January 2015 - Too Sick To Work? You better drive home!
29 January 2015
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
Winter is here, the NHS is at bursting point and there's a lot of sickness around - whether it's battling a dreaded cold or flu, or something more serious.
Some people will take to their beds, but many still go to work; either through a sense of duty or because they can't afford not to - something we may see more of with the growth of zero hour contracts.
From a road safety point of view, however, it may not be safe to drive when you are feeling unwell. On top of that, you may be unfit to drive due to the medication you are taking. But who makes that decision as to whether you are going to drive or not?
If someone falls ill at work, quite often their line manager will tell them to go home.
That's fine, except in most cases they are expected to drive themselves, making them too sick to work but not too sick to get behind the wheel. I wonder what a court of law would think if they had an accident?
A number of years ago, when visiting a client, I witnessed that precise scenario. A member of staff was told to go home, gathered their keys and was heading for the exit. I actually offered to give them a lift, however they declined because they didn't want to leave their car at the office. I expressed my concerns about their fitness to drive, but they said they would be fine and there was little I could do to dissuade them.
But the quandary illness poses to many fleet managers is what do you do?
Should a member of staff, who is clearly ill, be allowed to drive their vehicle home or do you state that if you can't work, nor can you drive? After a long period off sick, is there a return to work interview to ensure the staff member is fit to drive again?
Do all Fleet managers remind staff of the medical conditions they are obliged to report to the DVLA? And if someone is too sick to work, does the fleet manager have a say in whether they are allowed to drive their company vehicle during their period of absenteeism? Too sick to work, but not to sick to drive - that's the question!
The problem is, it's a sensitive issue to interrogate someone about their illnesses, and it could cause bad feeling between company and employee if the fleet manager becomes too heavy handed in setting out, and enforcing, rules about driving when sick.
However, it should certainly feature in your company policy or driver handbook to avoid your company