Driving licence check by the employer
21. Sep 2021 | By Tim Ruhoff
As the owner of a vehicle, you have a duty to ensure that no person without a licence or driving permit drives your vehicle.
Employers in the duty to control
If vehicle owners forego the obligation to check driving licences, this can have severe consequences. According to § 21 StVG, there is a threat of a fine or even imprisonment. In companies with a large fleet of vehicles, the driving licence check is time-consuming. How you can carry out the driving licence check by employers in the safest way and with little effort, and what electronic support is available for this, is discussed below.
Legal basis for driving licence checks by employers
The obligation to check driving licences results from the owner's liability according to § 21 StVG. Accordingly, the vehicle owner must ensure that no driver drives his or her vehicle without a valid driving licence. The regulation results from the fact that motor vehicles are generally considered a source of danger for the general public and therefore the owner is also held liable by the legislator. According to a decision of the Cologne Higher Regional Court of 8 October 1993 (Ss 414/93), the owner is the person who uses a "vehicle for his own account and who has the power of disposal over it that such use presupposes". In companies, the managing director or board member is liable as the keeper for a violation of § 21 StVG. Regular checking of the driver's licence is considered the best way to avoid liability. Since this task can sometimes be very time-consuming and documentation-intensive in a large fleet, it is also possible for the entrepreneur to delegate this check to the fleet manager. However, the entrepreneur is still obliged to check whether the fleet manager is carrying out his task conscientiously.
Driver's license check by employer - How often?
The liability of the entrepreneur due to a violation of § 21 StVG can especially affect employers who provide their employees with company cars or pool vehicles. In order to ensure that the employee has the driving licence, the driving licence check should be carried out by employers when the vehicle is provided. Since the employer can generally assume that the employee will not lose his driving licence after an initial check, a repetition of the check every six months is sufficient.
If there is a suspicion of loss or withdrawal of the driving licence, the employer is obliged to investigate this and to have the driving licence shown again, even in a shorter period than six months. The vehicle owner should also do the same if, due to frequent notices of administrative offences, e.g. driving too fast, it can be assumed that a driving ban might have been issued.
Furthermore, the employer must ensure that employees only drive vehicles for which they have a permit. There are restrictions such as vehicle classes or permission to drive only vehicles with automatic transmission. If the employer allows his employees to drive vehicles that are not covered by the driving licence, this is also a violation of section 21 StVG. In addition, the employer must also pay attention to the individual driving ability of his employees to whom he provides a company car or a pool vehicle. According to § 31 StVZO, the vehicle owner may not order or permit the vehicle to be put into operation if the driver is not fit to do so, e.g. by taking drugs or medication. This can also lead, in the worst case, to the expiry of the insurance cover for the vehicle for property damage and personal injury (in accordance with § 28 VVG) and the owner having to pay for the costs.
Proper driving licence checks by the employer - procedure
The initial recording of the driver's license should be very accurate, including documentation of the following data:
- Name and address of the driver
- Driving licence number
- Vehicle classes
- Date, place and issuing authority
- Other restrictions such as automatic transmission
- Validity of the driving licence
- Date of initial inspection
It is important that the original driving licence is presented. A copy of the driving licence should also be made for evidence purposes. However, for data protection reasons, it must be ensured that only persons authorised to deal with the fleet have access to the documents and that the documents are destroyed immediately as soon as they are no longer required. The driver must be informed accordingly about the collection and use of his data. The data can be recorded manually or by means of an electronic driving licence check using software. The manual driving licence check means a lot of paper and a high level of control effort. The data for each driver must be recorded on a form and the dates for the regular check must be monitored accordingly. This can mean an additional effort, particularly for employees who are not employed at the same location as the fleet manager. It may be necessary to run after these employees for the check.
How to automate your driver's license check
An electronic driving licence check offers a significant simplification in administrative handling. In its simplest form, this can be used to record the data in software instead of on a paper sheet, and an automatic reminder is sent when the driving licence check has to be repeated. In this way, important check dates can be avoided or data forgotten. The disadvantage of this method is also that the driver must also be regularly on site so that he can present the original driving licence to the holder. It is better to record the driving licence electronically. This is done by sticking an RFID chip (Radio Frequency Identification) on the driving licence when it is first recorded, on which encrypted information is stored. The chip can then be read at a checking station. The procedure is even simpler if, instead of a chip, a bar code or QR-C.
Electronic driving licence control and the works council
The electronic driver's license check means involving the works council. According to the Works Constitution Act, the works council has a right of co-determination, since personal data is collected. It is advisable to involve the works council as early as possible if a company is considering carrying out the driver's license check electronically. The earlier the benefits are explained to the works council and it is involved in the selection of the software, the greater the likelihood that it will agree to the introduction and thus also convince the employees. To ensure that a procedure is laid down for the procedure of checking the driver's license and that the data collected is not misused for other purposes, a works agreement can also be concluded.
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