Company cars need to be treated with respect. If not, you could find yourself in hot water before you can say ‘boom!’ writes MISA’s Tiekie Mocke.
Certain positions include the use of a company car, either as a perk or as a tool of trade. Other positions come with the responsibility of driving customers’ cars for testing purposes or an employer’s car for deliveries, while some jobs have the responsibility of fixing or servicing customers’ cars.
The one thing that many employees do not realise is the trust and accountability that goes with that responsibility.
MISA receives numerous inquiries from members on the topic of company cars. They range from dismissals as a result of reckless and negligent driving, negligence or gross negligence while working on a customer’s car, to damages, accidents and write offs of company and customers’ cars.
Position of trust
All contracts of employment (regardless whether they are in writing or verbal) imply trust and acting in good faith between both the employer and employee.
The unfortunate tendency is that many employees lack responsibility and accountability, although this is rather the exception than the rule. Many employers are adopting a zero tolerance approach, which then also impacts on employees who strive to honour the trust and responsibility placed on them.
Accountability and responsibility
The moment an employee gets behind the wheel of a company or customer’s car or works on a customer’s car, the employee is accountable and responsible for what happens from that moment on.
Damage to vehicles and loss of property or assets
The Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO) makes provision for a process to be followed should an employee find themselves in the unfortunate position of having an accident or having to deal with loss and/or damage to a customer’s or employer’s assets. Clause 9.3 of the Main Collective Agreement provides that damages or the excess amounts incorporated in an insurance policy, can be deducted from an employee’s salary. This deduction is, however, subject to certain processes and outcomes.
Damage to vehicles
To be protected by these provisions, employees should have authorisation to drive a customer or employer’s vehicle. The employer must investigate the incident and determine through a disciplinary hearing whether the employee is guilty on a balance of probability of:
Should an employee be found guilty of any of the above, the employer is entitled to deduct the loss, damage or excess from their weekly wage or monthly salary, providing that the deduction is not more than 30% of their net wage or salary.
Loss of property or assets
This provision excludes motor vehicles and deals with company property and assets. Here the Agreement provides that a formal investigation should take place and employees should be given the opportunity to state their defence in a disciplinary hearing. Should an employee be found guilty on a balance of probability of wilful damage or gross negligence to company property or assets, of either the employer or a customer, the employer is entitled to deduct the loss, damage or excess from their weekly wage or monthly salary, providing that the deduction is not more than 30% of their net wage or salary.
Employees, and specifically MISA Members, have a duty of good faith towards their employer. Accidents happen, but do ensure that it is not as a result of gross negligence, wilful damage or the like.
Protect yourself by following the simple guidelines set out in your company’s Vehicle Policy and keep to the traffic rules and regulations. Don’t be your own worst enemy!
By Tiekie Mocke, MISA’s Manager: Legal Department