Dismissal for expired HGV driving licence fair

Southampton, UK: The Employment Appeal Tribunal has overturned a decision that an employer unfairly dismissed two lorry drivers who had mistakenly allowed their HGV licences to expire.

The claimants were HGV drivers for Wincanton with 19 years’ service with the company. The company checked drivers’ licences every six months and during such a check discovered that the licences for both drivers had expired.

Wincanton dismissed the drivers for gross misconduct due to the “potentially serious adverse impact” of driving without valid licences, which is a criminal offence.

When appealing their dismissal, the claimants argued that dismissal was the wrong sanction given that, six year’s earlier, one of the claimants had made a similar error.

On appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal overturned the Tribunal’s decision that the dismissals were unfair.

“This is a good decision for employers because it clarifies that employees cannot escape dismissal when they are guilty of serious negligence in circumstances when it does not result in anything bad happening. Put simply, employers can take into account potential adverse consequences and it does not matter whether those consequences have actually materialised,” says Trethowans solicitors in a statement about the case.