Some employees need to use a motor vehicle to do their job. Some employers will provide a vehicle; others will require employees to provide their own vehicle.
Employer's responsibilities when an employee drives a vehicle at work
Employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees while they are at work. This includes when they are in, or operating a vehicle for work purposes. An employer must also make sure that all employees are trained and supervised so that they can do their work duties safely. This means:
- employers making sure that any vehicle used for work purposes is:
- roadworthy and warranted
- adequately and appropriately insured
- loaded and used only within its specified capability. For example, if a vehicle is badly loaded a driver's vision could be impaired or they could be hurt by cargo.
- employers making sure that employees operating a vehicle:
- have the appropriate driver's licence class
- can drive effectively at the time, for example, they’re not fatigued or affected by alcohol or drugs
- comply with driving hours restrictions for heavy vehicles
- comply with the conditions of their driving licence, for example, wearing glasses
- complete logbooks accurately and fully
- comply with vehicle loading and other safety requirements
- have enough time to do the task safely
- are physically capable of doing the task.
Employers can develop a safe driving policy using the New Zealand Transport Agency publication, Your Safe Driving Policy (external link) as a base.
There are additional requirements for young employees.
Private use of a vehicle supplied by the employer
Employers considering offering private use of a vehicle should think carefully about any tax implications (eg fringe benefit tax etc), and what the impact would be if the personal use was removed.
Employer’s responsibilities when employees use their own vehicle for work purposes
If an employee is going to use their own vehicle when doing their work duties, (this doesn’t usually include travel to and from work at the start and end of the working day), the employer and employee should agree to this as part of the employment agreement (or otherwise agreed in writing).
If an employee is using their own car for work purposes, the employer's responsibilities are the same as when the employer owns the vehicle. The employer will need to check that the vehicle is safe, suitable and complies with legal requirements (eg is registered and warranted etc); the employee can usually provide this information.
Meeting ongoing vehicle costs
The employer and employee may agree that the employee is paid a vehicle and/or fuel allowance. Sometimes (eg on farms with their own fuel tank), the employer provides the fuel directly for employees for work use rather than by reimbursement. Some employers and employees agree that the employer will cover or help with ongoing costs such as registration and warrant of fitness.
First aid kits in motor vehicles
If employees are using motor vehicles to work in, or travel to, locations away from the main place of work, each vehicle must have a suitable first aid kit.
Visit WorkSafe’s First Aid for Workplaces - Good Practice Guide (external link) for more information.
Whether a parking space for a vehicle required for work purposes is provided by the employer or the employee (and whether or not the cost is reimbursed) often depends on availability and then what the employer and employee have agreed.
In some organisations, parking (which can include private parking) is allocated by seniority, or on a first in first served basis. Some organisations provide parking as part of a salary package which may be done by salary deduction (with the written agreement of the employee).
Vehicle use policy
Employers with employees driving work vehicles should put in place a vehicle use policy. This should cover:
- any restrictions on personal use
- if anyone else (eg a spouse) can drive the vehicle
- who pays the insurance excess
- expectations for care and maintenance
- how workers log their business use
- any restrictions on parking the vehicle (eg whether it needs to be locked overnight in a garage etc)
Vehicle health and safety policy
Employers can find information to help them develop a health and safety policy for employees using vehicles, and a sample policy, in NZ Transport Agency’s publication Your Safe Driving Policy (external link) .