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Mobile phones misery for employers

Employees caught using a mobile phone while they’re driving could cause trouble for their employer too, according to a Telford law firm. 

Harsher penalties were introduced just weeks ago with penalty points and fines doubled in a bid to crack down on accidents and improve road safety. 

But Emma Palmer, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, Telford, warned it wasn’t just the employee involved who could be penalised.

“It has been illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving, or even while stopped with the engine running at traffic lights for example, since December 2003," she said.

“This includes using the phone to follow a map, read or send a text, and browse or use social media – and since the new rules were introduced, offenders will receive six penalty points rather than three, and a £200 fine instead of the previous £100 penalty. And if the driver involved is a novice motorist who has had their licence for less than two years, they will also be banned, even if they’re caught using their phone just once.” 

Miss Palmer said it was vital that employers had clear rules in place for employees when it came to driving and mobile phones. 

“If your employees need to make or receive telephone calls while driving on work-related business, your company can also be prosecuted if they’re not using a fully hands-free device," she added.

“It needs to be a device that’s completely voice-activated – if your employee has to touch anything to make or answer a call, such as an answer or end call button, the device isn’t hands-free.” 

Miss Palmer said the safest option would be to insist employees switch off their phones while driving for work and demand that they park up safely if they need to make a call, check directions, emails of messages. 

“You could also make using a handheld mobile device while driving on work-related business a disciplinary offence for which the employee could be sacked – this is drastic but will protect your company if employees choose to ignore the rules. 

“The police just have to see a device being held at some point on a journey. They don’t have to prove what it was being used for, so stealing a quick glance at a screen could be all it takes for your employee to get caught. 

“Make sure your employees fully understand the risks – and the jeopardy they’re putting your company in – as well as the consequences they’ll face if they flout the law.”

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