ARE RED LIGHT TICKETS OR SCHOOL ZONE SPEEDING TICKETS EATING AWAY AT YOUR PROFITS?
I am sure by now either you or your employees have received those annoying red light tickets or the school zone speeding tickets. Nassau County has collected over 1.4 million dollars since school started, and projects to receive as much as $25 million a year from those annoying and costly speed camera tickets. In 2013, Suffolk County generated more than $19 million from red light camera tickets, and has estimated bringing in $30 million this year with the installation of more cameras.
We all know by now how they work. Once a vehicle passes through an intersection when the traffic light is red, or speeds through a school zone, an $80 ticket is then sent by mail to the registered owner of the vehicle. It doesn’t matter who was driving the vehicle, the ticket is assessed against the owner. If it’s one of your kids who gets the ticket, like most parents you will probably make your child pay the fine. Unfortunately, the same logic cannot be applied to your employees who get those tickets.
HERE’S THE PROBLEM:
New York State Labor Law says that an employer cannot make unauthorized deductions from an employee’s wages, nor demand separate payments to cover a company expense. It also makes it unlawful for an employer to demand that an employee reimburse an employer for company expenses caused by an employee’s mistake. Since a ticket issued on a company owned vehicle is considered a company expense, employees cannot be required to pay the fine associated with the ticket. If the employee offers to voluntarily pay the fine, employers must properly document this voluntary action, otherwise there could be repercussions from the Labor Department.
BUT THERE IS A SOLUTION:
Just because there is no monetary liability on the part of the employee for the ticket does not mean that employees can disobey traffic laws while driving a company owned vehicle with no repercussions. While an employee cannot be forced to pay for one of these tickets, an employer can take disciplinary action against an employee, including firing the employee or suspending them. An employee’s future raises or bonuses can also be impacted by getting these tickets. These disciplinary actions would most likely be worse for the employee than having to pay the fine associated with the ticket, and cause them to be more careful when they are driving a company vehicle.
Employers should also consider including in their employee handbooks express policies so that their employees are aware of the consequences of receiving red light traffic tickets and school zone tickets while driving company vehicles. With knowledge of the potential consequences, your employees might be more compliant with traffic laws when driving a company owned vehicle.
If you do not have an employee manual to include such policy, it is time to get one. If you do have one, it may be a good time to update it. We would be happy to assist you in drafting a policy on this issue for your employee manual. Contact us if we can be of assistance.
Read our related post, Does your company need an employee handbook?