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Drivers need more guidance on when it's acceptable to take sick leave

By: Deborah Bates
03 December 2010

While most employees across the UK work to a company-set policy regarding sick leave, many drivers have little to no guidance, as the decision rests on the trust between the employee and their employer, reports Road Transport.

Industry professional John Kerrigan, director of a transport firm, says "We appreciate that drivers will have problems and will need our support, and there are times when we need them to stay at work a bit longer." However it has been suggested that drivers may be hesitant to take sick days when they need them, for a range of reasons.

Loss of earnings, and strong demands from employers have been cited as the two main causes, according to The United Road Transport Union (URTU). However the approach of the festive season can see stress, colds and increased alcohol consumption putting drivers at risk when operating their vehicles. If compromised by fatigue, sickness or under the influence of alcohol, drivers are at risk of dangerous driving - the punishment for which can be up to 14 years' in jail, a lifetime driving ban or unlimited fine.

Industry experts claim that drivers are not given enough guidance about when it is acceptable to call in sick, and when it is not - suggesting they should be given driver training on the matter. An experienced transport solicitor advises "It's the same for a 40-tonne truck driver as it is for a lawyer: if he has a streaming cold or hay fever, he doesn't come into work. If he has a mild cold, then he does."

However transport professional Pam Whitefield is hesitant to give in to drivers who require sick leave, asking on Big Truck TV, "Who will have to pick up the tab for decreased productivity and missed delivery times because a driver is too sick to work?"

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