MOT crisis: What are the implications for employers?

Wes Barker

February 21 2020

Northern Ireland MOT centres are facing a crisis with the continued suspension of MOT tests for cars and light vehicles.

There’s also no estimated date for resolution. As a result, many employers are wondering how it will affect employees who drive for work.

Is the vehicle exempt?

Exemption certificates are being issued for cars and light vehicles that are four years old or more. This will extend the current MOT certificate by four months. It means that cars that haven’t had their first MOT will be ineligible for this exemption, greatly limiting the number of exempted vehicles.

Impact on employees

The principal problem for employees is that they may not be legally entitled to travel to work by car. Employees however have an obligation to make all reasonable efforts to attend work.

In the event that they cannot use their car due to expired MOT, alternative modes of transportation should be considered such as:

  • Taxi
  • Bus
  • Train
  • Car share with a colleague

In the event that an employer has exhausted all options, they could consider contributing to transport costs or allowing employees to work from home. Alternatively, employees could be encouraged to utilise annual leave. An employer can even enforce this with enough notice if the MOT delay continues.

It’s important to clarify the contractual situation before withholding an employee’s salary. If there’s no legal or contractual basis for withholding salary, employers risk suffering a claim for unlawful deduction from wages.

Impact on employers with vehicles

Employers may face scenarios such as being unable to provide work if company vehicles are not roadworthy. Employees refusing to drive a company vehicle without a valid MOT certificate is another issue.

If an employee refuses to drive a vehicle that is covered by an exemption certificate, this would be a refusal to follow a reasonable management request and could result in disciplinary action. However, if the vehicle was not covered under an exemption certificate, it would be illegal to drive the vehicle and thus an unreasonable request.

Disciplinary or dismissal action in the latter case would be inappropriate and could result in expensive claims.

Is there alternative work available?

If vehicles are not eligible for the exemption certificate, employers may need to consider alternative work for employees in the interim. If there’s no alternative work that can be provided, employees can be placed on lay off. This, of course, depends whether there’s provision for this in the employee’s contract.

Employees are then entitled to Statutory Guarantee Pay which is currently paid at a rate of £29 per day. This entitlement is available for a maximum of five workless days. If there’s no lay off clause in the contract, asking employees to use annual leave could be an option.

Need our help?

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