Grey Fleet Management
Organisations that allow their employees to drive their own vehicles on business are walking a health and safety tightrope.
Too many SMEs believe that if they allow staff to drive privately-owned cars or vans on work-related journeys then health and safety and duty of care regulations can be ignored. Wrong!
Legally, any vehicle driven on company business – no matter who owns it – responsibility rests with the employer.
Employee-owned vehicles driven on business are known as the ‘grey fleet’ – but the law is very black and white over where responsbility for the vehicle and driver lies in terms of occupational road risk management.
Therefore, it is incumbent on all employers to have in place a robust ‘grey fleet’ management policy that will satisfy law enforcers should they knock on the office door in the event of an employee driving their own vehicle when on business being involved in a crash.
Due to the complexity of checking the validity of employee driving licences, that the correct motor insurance is in place, a current Vehicle Excise Duty disc is displayed, privately-owned vehicles are serviced in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and a current MoT Certificate is in place if applicable, some organisations have implemented a ban on ‘grey fleet’ use.
Additionally, there is a belief – and industry surverys support the theory – that some employees ‘fiddle’ their mileage expenses to supplement their salaries. A catalogue of ‘invented’ or ‘unnecessary’ journeys can prove extremely expensive for employers if business trips are not strictly monitored.
While banning ‘grey fleet’ use maybe a last resort, many organisations have introduced restrictions on the type of privately owned vehicles allowed to be driven on business.
Such restrictions might apply to vehicle age and emissions – to bring rules more into line with an employer’s company car policy – and a mileage limit.
Research published last year and supported by the Energy Saving Trust suggested that almost a third of companies allowed employees to drive privately-owned vehicles more than 7,000 miles on company business with 24% of ‘grey’ fleet vehicles covering more than 10,000 business miles a year.
If employees are reimbursed at 45p a mile (Authorised Milage Allowance Payment rates) that is a huge cost to business. As a result, some employers have discovered that it is more cost effective to introduce rules that mean higher-mileage staff use a hire car for business trips or have a company car.
While it is becoming apparent that some organisations are getting to grips with the policing and management of staff who use their own cars on business, it is equally clear that many employers are not.
It is not onerous to ensure that employers that require staff to drive their own vehicles on business have in place a complete driver and vehicle document audit trail to mitigate their risk exposure. However, it does require a recognition of the issue.
It is equally clear that employers that pro-actively manage their ‘grey fleet’ are rewarded with a reduction in their risk exposure and are almost certainly cutting costs as well as their carbon footprint by reducing unnecessary business journeys.