Any business must take the precautions necessary to stay legally safe. The impact of getting into legal trouble is more than just financial, it can reputational, organizational, and even force you to shut your doors. When it comes to managing your legal obligations to your employees and even your freelancers, you have to be thorough. This counts with delivery drivers, who are becoming increasingly essential in the e-commerce driven modern world. So, what are your legal obligations to them and how do you make sure that you’re fulfilling your end of the bargain?
How long are they allowed to drive?
The specifics of this will differ depending on where you are based but, in most places, there are either federal, state, or local rules on just how long you are allowed to drive professionally. Federally, for instance, some laws say they can’t work for any more than 60 hours on-duty over seven days or 70 hours over eighty days and must maintain logs of how often they drive. There are certain exceptions, such as needing to drive longer to get out of adverse driving conditions. If you employ a driver, then you as an employer are responsible for making sure they do not drive any more than how long they are allowed to. If they are a freelancer, whose responsibility it becomes a little fuzzier, but it would perhaps be wiser to make sure that they aren’t being hired by you to drive more than you would pay an employee to do so.
Managing their health and safety needs
It’s wise to take steps to maximize the health and safety of your drivers, regardless of what your responsibilities are. If they get into an accident or otherwise hurt themselves, you’re paying for it one way or another, be it through the lost labor or, if you’re their employer, through legal costs or paying for the time they spend off and injured. If you own the vehicle used for delivery, regardless of whether you are the employer or not, it’s your responsibility to secure the vehicle. For instance, there have been cases of a company being found partly liable for someone falling out of a vehicle because they did not have the necessary equipment such as handrails to manage getting in and out of the storage bay of that vehicle. It’s in your best interest to systemize and enforce health and safety practices where you can.
Responsibility for accidents on the road
Legal liability can become a tricky subject when it comes to road accidents. Much of the liability will rely on evidence, showing how the accident happened, and finding the person who is at fault. However, even if you use a freelancer it’s not safe to assume that you’re not responsible for what the freelancer does on the road in part. If it’s your employee, then you are likely to be responsible in some part, financially, and should ensure you have the services of professionals like a motorcycle accident attorney to help assign responsibility where it belongs. Prevention is the best cure and doing what you can to reduce the chances of your workers getting into accidents is obviously the best possible solution. However, you do have to be ready for the possibility, and make sure that you’re legally covered, either by having the right legal help in place or by making contracts are clear with freelancers on their legal obligations on the road.
The differences between freelancers and employees
Freelancers and employees are entirely different beasts when it comes to speaking about your legal requirements. If your delivery drivers are also your employees, then you need to meet all of the legal obligations you would for any employees. This includes making sure they’re protected from abuse, discrimination, and harm, ensuring they are paid fairly and legally for the work that they do, and so on. If you have any confusion about what your obligations to employees are, then you should work with an HR consulting team to make sure that you are acting entirely within your role as an employer and meet all of the rules and regulations that you should be, when it comes to your employees.
The legal obligations of any business to its labor providers are not simple enough to be distilled into one post. Aside from whether you are employing them or hiring them as freelancers, there are other circumstances to be considered so be sure to get real legal advice rather than just taking what you read here as the final answer. That’s your real obligation.