Some businesses require their employees to use their own cars on the road to carry out their working duties, this means that employers are responsible for them and these are referred to as grey fleet drivers.
What is the definition?
The definition of a grey fleet is: a vehicle that does not belong to the company or employer but is used for business travel. As a result, a grey fleet driver may be someone who uses a vehicle that was purchased via an employee ownership scheme, gets behind the wheel of a privately rented vehicle or simply uses a vehicle that is privately owned by the employee themselves.
Grey fleets are the employer’s responsibility when they’re being used for business purposes, fuel will be paid for or compensated in cash allowances.
Employers legal responsibility
Van lease specialists Northgate recommend that what employers should study when using grey fleet vehicles is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974. This is because the act underlines that it is the requirement of employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees while at work, so far as is reasonably practicable. It also stresses that employers and employees have a responsibility whenever they are engaging in work-related driving activities to ensure they are never putting others at risk.
In this act, it describes that employers are totally responsible legally, they have the same duty of care as they would if they supplied workers with company vehicles.
Although some companies are carrying out this method of work, they aren’t fully aware of how to manage everything correctly and stay within the legal guidelines – the RoSPA has created a guide for employers to use. Not only does the system enable organisations to record details like driving license validity, insurance details including business use, MOT certification and road tax validity, but once recorded it can alert each relevant individual driver and line manager of dates when any of these items are up for renewal.
What are the facts?
Research carried out by Lex Autolease, in their motoring report in 2016, said that there were almost 14 million grey fleets on the road within the UK. A report commissioned by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) titled Getting to grips with Grey Fleet has also suggested that employers across the nation are racking up a bill of around £5.5 billion each year to cover the grey fleet.
The Energy Saving Trust found out that grey fleet vehicles drive around 12 billion miles per year – producing 3.5 million tonnes of CO2.
“Worryingly, 22 per cent of fleet managers think there are no serious risks to the company from employees using their own cars for work. But driving is the most dangerous activity for most employees while at work, and 62 per cent of private car use is for work-related activity, so duty of care, regardless of the vehicle’s ownership, should be a top priority.” Commented John Webb, from Lex Autolease.
From these results, the BVRLA is trying to lower the number of grey fleets within Britain and wants to bring the mileage down by 50% before 2020-they are looking to work with employers and policymakers.
What could be done differently?
As a business, are you wanting to bring down the number of grey fleets within your company? If so, there are a number of alternatives available for you and your employees to consider…
A new scheme to produce the benefits
A beneficial program for those using vehicles for business purposes would be salary sacrifices. This would work in that businesses would give employees the chance to relinquish a part of their salary and in return receive the non-cash benefit of a new lease vehicle.
If older motors are being renewed with modern models, there will be less polluting. David Hosking, the CEO of salary sacrifice market leaders Tusker, commented: “They … meet duty of care concerns and, by introducing mandatory license checking and automatically providing business insurance, the schemes ensure that the company and its employees are fully covered.”
Using a vehicle renting service
With the use of rental services, employers can allow their employees to drive what could be more efficient vehicles and not be bound to a contract – it will be more flexible. This last point is underlined by the fact that vehicles can be delivered for the company to use for as little as an hour at a time or for a month or more. Once an agreement is worked out, employers will be able to receive in-depth management reporting information so that they can monitor usage, as well as keep on top of vehicle emissions and any associated costs.
Using a company provided vehicle
Another way around this problem would be to reduce the business mileage required for a company car, this will result in more staff members being able to get behind the wheel of a company vehicle.
“This means that the business has more control, or at least some say, over the car that drivers have.” Lex Autolease’s John Webb acknowledged.
“I wouldn’t say it is necessarily the most strategic way to manage your grey fleet. If you’ve got somebody who’s doing 10,000 business miles a year in their own car, then there is an argument to say they should have a company car because they are more than an occasional user. However, I wouldn’t say increasing the company car fleet is right. It is an option, of course. You can give every single employee a car, but it’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.” Jon Burdekin, the head of consultancy services at business mobility provider Alphabet commented.