Durham-based haulier John Edmunds has advised hauliers to use IT to ensure compliance information is at their fingertips, after he was vindicated at an employment tribunal.
Edmunds, owner of JSE Transport, faced a claim from a former employee for constructive dismissal because of whistleblowing. The driver had left the company, worked for another firm for about one month, then suffered a stroke.
He subsequently made claims against JSE of constructive dismissal and unfair treatment due to whistleblowing, following his alleged complaints that the company was overloading trucks and overworking drivers.
The driver claimed he was worked harder than other drivers and alleged various infringements such as unlawful repackaging of hazardous goods, and Working Time Directive breaches.
The tribunal found that the driver had not made the complaints while employed at JSE Transport and information stored on JSE Transport’s IT system was able to disprove his complaints.
“We use TPN Connect, our pallet network’s IT system throughout our business,” said Edmunds.
“As a result I could provide evidence of every load, every journey, every manifest, including pallet weights, every delivery and every time the driver had signed his acceptance of a load. We could give it all to our lawyers almost instantly.”
Edmunds said that without his IT evidence and the legal representation through the RHA he would have lost a lot of money. “Even though we had done nothing wrong, I’d have been under huge pressure to settle because of the costs of fighting the case,” he said.
Heather Lunney, employment solicitor at Backhouse Jones, said a haulier could expect a three-day case like this to cost about £10,000 to £15,000 in legal fees. The pay-out to the driver, had he been successful, could have been substantially more.
“For an unfair dismissal claim, a standard schedule of loss would be up to 12 months’ gross salary, but under the whistleblower provision all caps are removed, so it could have been as high as two years’ salary, if not more” she said.
Lunney said most hauliers are not good at keeping evidence, not just of compliance, but of such things as correspondence between themselves and their employees.
By Louise Cole