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DH is HGV driver, had accident, now company want him to pay?

(62 Posts)
oneoldmare Thu 09-Jun-16 15:17:25

Hi all, probably more of a WWYD than AIBU but I'll explain as best I can.

My husband is a self employed HGV driver that works for a company. he drives their vehicles and and gets paid an hourly rate.

He used to be employed by the company but they asked all their drivers to go self employed which was all fine, however he hasn't sign a contract since becoming self employed.

He managed to bump the vehicle that he was driving into another one of the companies vehicles when parking in the yard after. Shift. He took photos of the damage and reported this straight away, as is procedure. He did admit that this was his fault and he misjudged a difficult manoeuvre.

I just want to add that he has driven for this company for over 8 years and has never had an accident before.

Anyway, he was annoyed at himself but didn't think too much about it and nothing was said to him from management until yesterday, 1 week later.

They have asked him to pay the £2500 pair bill. They have said that their insurance won't cover it as they are both their vehicles.
I want to know what our options are please if anyone knows.

I understand from their point of view that it was his fault and they shouldn't suffer financially but surely what insurance is for. It's quite a large company so I would presume they have good insurance cover and 1 accident wouldn't make that much difference to their premiums. I know that they have vehicles in accident regularly and none of the other drivers have been asked to pay before even if they were at fault.
Obviously if we don't pay then they can easily stop giving him work as no contract in place and he's not employed by them, but does this seem fair to you?

How will we ensure that if he had a bigger accident and wrote a Car off that they couldn't then ask to be reimbursed for that.

Do you think this company are trying it on.

I have asked him to see the invoice for the works that has been done and for them to put in writing what they want him to pay for and why insurance won't cover it.
Is there anything else we should do.

Paying this bill would be massive for us. We certainly wouldn't have all the money at hand straight away.

Tiggeryoubastard Thu 09-Jun-16 15:23:25

If it's his fault why shouldn't he pay it (subject to seeing prove of cost)? Also, are you sure he's actually covered by the regulations of being self employed, and the company isn't pulling a fast one?

BrandNewAndImproved Thu 09-Jun-16 15:25:20

I don't think he's covered yet as he hasn't signed a contract so instead of admitting they are at fault for not sorting contracts they're asking him to pay.

I could be chatting out of my arse.

yummumto3girls Thu 09-Jun-16 15:28:55

If he has been "working" for them for 8 years, and solely for them, then I would see him as being an employee not self employed. You wouldn't ask an employee to pay this. If they sacked him I am sure he would have a good case for 4 years backdated unpaid holiday pay and a case for unfair dismissal. May be a good bargaining point!

igotdemons Thu 09-Jun-16 15:31:27

When your DH went SE with this company, did they inform him and the other drivers that this is what would happen if he damaged any vehicles?

Asprilla11 Thu 09-Jun-16 15:37:53

Ask to see the insurance document that clearly states that the company would not be covered, because I doubt it does state that.

HirplesWithHaggis Thu 09-Jun-16 15:40:02

I'm no expert, but this company sounds deeply, deeply dodgy. On nanny threads there has been much discussion about employed status rather than self-employed, and it's generally the case that they cannot be s/e because the parent(s) set the hours and days of work, rate of pay, holiday/sick leave etc. This sounds the same to me. Of course it's cheaper for the company to tell everyone they're now s/e because they don't have to pay employer's NI or pension contributions, sick/holiday leave... angry

I'd want a good look at the insurance policy, and a written explanation from the insurance provider as to why they don't cover this accident. I wonder if it's because there is no "third party" involved? But surely a professional transport company has better cover than "third party only" or TPF&T? Comprehensive is often cheaper in a domestic situation, though this might not apply to HGV.

I think you may need proper legal advice. Do you have home insurance that might cover this?

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Thu 09-Jun-16 15:40:33

Iirc it's the conditions of employment that denote self-employed status or employed, so the company may be on slightly dodgy grounds there. Your DH may be able to come to a compromise with them, but he'll need to swot up on employment law.

EveryoneElsie Thu 09-Jun-16 15:42:14

I would contact ACAS straight away and get legal advice.

witsender Thu 09-Jun-16 15:42:45

Very dodgy. And I think they're pulling a fast one on insurance too, he should argue for it to be paid by that and he covers excess if needs be.

BaboonBottom Thu 09-Jun-16 15:44:40

I used to use self employed drivers in a previous job. Before I used them I had to have a copy of their insurance on file as well as confirmation they were payments by their own taxes.
With our own drivers we did have to threaten the bad ones who didn't give a shit that they'd have to pay the excess. But they'd never be expected to pay the full cost, in this sort of incident it would have been sucked up.

Surely when they changed to being self employed there would be a contract similar to above?
Addison lee (I think) are in a court case at the moment with their courier bikes as they are "self employed" but really employed. It sounds similar?

BarbaraofSeville Thu 09-Jun-16 15:44:52

There's good information about whether HMRC consider a person employed or self employed on their website (it's not up to the company or the individual but if the employer tells your DH what to take where and when, then he's employed).

There's a HGV driver on here (DisgracetotheYchromosome?) who might be able to advise on practicalities of paying for the damage, but that doesn't sound fair at all - surely it should be an insurance claim even if your DH was at fault?

Arfarfanarf Thu 09-Jun-16 15:48:20

does he meet the criteria for being self employed?

set his own charges? send someone else to do his work? have more than one client?

I think I'd come out fighting, tbh.

he used to be employed by them but now they've asked all their drivers to go self employed? sounds dodgy as fuck.

I think they'd be foolish to try to get him to pay this bill.

wasonthelist Thu 09-Jun-16 15:49:25

Having worked in Goods Vehicle Insurance I would say it's quite likely there's no insurance cover. Quite a few of our larger fleets carried road risks (third party) cover only as they calculated it was cheaper to do that than insure fully comp and claim for repairs. Some of them even did their own accident repairs, so I think it's entirely possible, even quite likely, that there is no insurance cover for this damage.

With that said, they are totally taking the piss expecting him to pay IMHO. They appear to be on shaky ground re the self employment too. However I know it's an industry famed for treating workers like dirt and it can be hard to fight. Good luck.

MadameCholetsDirtySecret Thu 09-Jun-16 15:50:23

I agree. It doesn't sound like he is self employed at all. You need to get a legal opinion on this.

BarbaraofSeville Thu 09-Jun-16 15:51:27

When they made everyone self employed, did they give a big payrise to make up for the lack of holidays, sick pay, redundancy payments etc?

DP works in the construction industry and there's a load of this shit there too. Fucking infuriating and just another example of big business making a fortune out of screwing over individuals try to do an honest days work, with a nice side helping of tax avoidance too.

Jessbow Thu 09-Jun-16 15:52:03

Is he classed as a sub contractor? If so he should probably have his own insurance.

Sub contractor do go where they are told by the contractor-

oneoldmare Thu 09-Jun-16 15:52:52

Thank you all for your advise. My thoughts were along the same lines.
He's worried about future work for them but I definately think ACAS is a call we should make.
Paying the access sounds like a reasonable compromise. I'll keep you updated when we hear anything else.

fascicle Thu 09-Jun-16 15:53:50

Do you think this company are trying it on.

Yes. It would have to form part of his contract. Was he made aware that this would be a condition of self-employment? Was he required to take out his own insurance and does he have to pay towards rental of the lorry?

Agree with others that the company might be trying to pass off his status as self-employed (no doubt to save costs).

LunaLoveg00d Thu 09-Jun-16 15:55:28

He is not self-employed. It is not up to the company to decide, or the worker. There are very definite rules about what constitutes self-employment, and what does not.

If he is expected to work for this company on set hours, set days, cannot pick and choose when he works, isn't allowed to work for anyone else etc then he is an employee and they are just trying to wriggle out of paying NI for him and giving him paid holidays. If you're self-employed there is often no contract between you and the client, you just invoice them for work done at the end of the week/months. If they're THAT shabby and underhand, doesn't surprise me that they would try to wriggle out of insurance obligations too. I

All VERY dodgy and your husband needs to clarify his employment status with HMRC.

SpaceDinosaur Thu 09-Jun-16 15:57:55

Sorry, not RTFT

My gut question is: did they issue him with a P45 when he was made to become self employed. That's P45 is the termination of his contract. No P45, he's still employed. Take them to court for back pay and terrify the crap out of them.

"Insurance doesn't cover it" is utter bullshit. I used to work for a company who had a lot of 0 HR contract/ self employed persons and any accident whilst under "us" was 100% insured.

EveryoneElsie Thu 09-Jun-16 15:58:16

Dont pay anything, just call ACAS! They are totally trying it on, they've already demonstrated that with the contract malarkey.
Best of luck.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Thu 09-Jun-16 15:59:23

As a self employed person he should have his own insurance.

However, this doesn't sound like he is self employed at all and appears to be a rouse on the part of the employer to avoid paying employers NI and employment benefits and deprive him of employment rights.

If it were me I'd go back and say he won't be paying but neither will he be making a tribunal claim to establish his employment status and to get compensation for loss of statutory payments including holiday pay so long as they don't give him cause to do so by cutting his hours

Suddenly £2500 won't seem so much to them.

RB68 Thu 09-Jun-16 16:00:54

It always amazes me that when there is a huge shortage of a certain type of worker the companies that need them treat them like dirt and do stuff like this. I would firsstly challenge his employment status. If he doesn't ever work for anyone else he is employed, now you need to evidence that. The fact he never signed a self employed contract and so on is extra evidence of this but fundamentally there are certain criteria to be considered employed or SE and you need to find these and sit and do an asssessment. ACAS will def be able to help.

Accidents do happen - he didn't intentionally misjudge the incident, it wasn't malicious or nasty they should have insurance and or ensure that insurance is in place - they as a company should not be on the road with no insurance its illegal. If it is not covered by their insurance they can't just lump a bill onto you - someone who doesn't know what they are doing has just done this to escape a bollocking by their manager

Its always tough when you have to challenge an employer, sorry to hear this for you as it is a long process to sort out but I do hope you get there

fascicle Thu 09-Jun-16 16:00:58

If he was truly self-employed, he'd be required to take out his own insurance, which it doesn't sound like he's got.

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