At this time with a large number of individuals volunteering for the NHS and other organisations also on a recruitment drive, it is important that we consider what needs to be done to ensure it is done legitimately, legally and safely to protect both your organisation and the volunteer.
Volunteers using their own vehicles in their voluntary activities should tell their insurance company. They should make it clear that they will only receive out-of-pocket expenses, and make it clear that this is not commercial use of the vehicle.
Most major UK based insurers have already said they will not charge clients for using vehicles during this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t declare the usage to your insurers first. Especially if the vehicle is being used to carry passengers, goods or deliver supplies.
Organisations should ensure that volunteers have told their insurance companies about their volunteer driving. An easy way to do this is to give your volunteers a standard letter with a return slip for the insurance company to complete. Asking for proof that this has been done is a good risk control step for the charity or organisation to follow.
- Your organisation should ask to see an MOT test certificate the vehicle is required to have one in place. Usually when the vehicle is over three years old
- Your organisation should also be confident that the vehicle is safe to operate. You may want to create a checklist that the volunteer can complete and submit as evidence that they are operating a road worthy vehicle. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicle they are driving is in a road worthy condition each and every time they use it. However, your organisation has a duty of care to other service users and the wider public, do acting responsibly and taking steps to mitigate any risk is important.
Seat belts – There are legal requirements for wearing seat belts, it’s important to remember that:-
- Cars must have both front and rear seat belts fitted and all passengers should wear them.
- Passengers aged 14 and over are legally responsible for ensuring that they wear a seat belt.
- Drivers are responsible for ensuring that children under the age of 14 are using an appropriate child or booster seat. Find out more about car seats here.
Fitness to drive
The volunteer must tell the DVLA if they have a driving licence and:
- They develop a ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability
- a condition or disability has got worse since they got their licence
Notifiable conditions are anything that could affect someone’s ability to drive safely. They can include:
- diabetes or taking insulin
- syncope (fainting)
- heart conditions (including atrial fibrillationand pacemakers)
- sleep apnoea
The DVLA will then make a decision about the person’s fitness to drive.
Not telling the DVLA about a condition or disability is a criminal offence. The driver could also invalidate their insurance if they do not follow medical advice not to drive.
Volunteers should be trained, however given the short term nature of some volunteering periods, this may not be fully practical or a viable investment in the individuals, but appropriate information should be collated by your organisation, such as driving license information.
Training to consider:
If volunteers are carrying elderly or disabled people or children, particularly in picking up and setting down passengers; you may wish to consider providing training in:
- Personal Safety for Lone Workers
- Customer Service
- Manual Handling
- Equality, Diversity and Discrimination
- Safeguarding Adults
- Safeguarding Children
- Workplace Health and Safety
- First Aid
It is a good idea for voluntary organisations to consider providing ID for volunteer drivers so that the people they are picking up can clearly recognise them. The identification should include the main telephone number for the organisation and be clearly visible.
Accidents, illness or injury
In the event of an accident, the organisation and the emergency services should be informed immediately. All claims should be reported to the motor insurers regardless of fault as soon as possible. Most insurance companies will allow you to do this online. You may also need to make an online report to the police.
- Driving licences should be checked when the volunteer starts and regularly while they are volunteering, to make sure that they don’t have any recent or serious driving convictions.
- Licences should be full and not provisional, preferably without endorsements.
- If a driver has penalty points on their licence, the organisation will need to decide whether or not they think the driver is be suitable for a role.
- Some organisations may want to set a minimum requirement for driving experience. Age discrimination should be avoided as long as a younger driver is experienced enough and an older driver is confident driving.
Insurance for volunteer drivers
If your organisation owns the vehicle being used by a volunteer, it is responsible for arranging insurance.
If the volunteer owns the vehicle, they are responsible for arranging insurance. They should inform their insurer that they are using it as part of a volunteering role.
The above document lists insurance companies that don’t charge extra premiums for volunteer driving.