MANAGING safe, sustainable mobility amid a rising trend of employees opting for cash in lieu of a company car due to a perceived rising tax burden makes grey fleet management ever-more critical.
That was one of the key messages from ACFO’s latest webinar along with a requirement to have in place technology to deliver a ‘cohesive, auditable and systemised’ approach and mileage capture systems to further aid compliance and accurate mileage reimbursement.
With at least 14 million privately-owned vehicles driven on work-related journeys – there are around 940,000 company cars on the UK’s roads, according to HM Revenue and Customs’ data.
Simon Turner, campaigns director of RoadSafe, which delivers the Driving for Better Business campaign, the core element of the Highways England business outreach programme, said: “I see a lot of inconsistency in the way many companies, of all sizes approach grey fleet.
“That includes small ones that get it right, and well-known larger ones who are getting it wrong or ignoring it completely. Who owns the car is largely irrelevant as the duty of care to manage occupational road risk is the same, so the management procedures to deal with that risk should be the same as well.”
The reasons for poor management of grey fleet vehicles were many and varied, including: Misunderstanding of both employers’ and drivers’ rights and obligations; a management fear of confrontation with drivers; a misplaced employer trust in drivers; or a lack of management commitment to provide the necessary resources.
Turner said: “Asking someone to drive for work brings certain obligations regarding a duty of care to manage the risk and, in law, these obligations are largely the same, whoever owns the vehicle, or however it is financed.”
Referring to a privately owned vehicle driven on business, he said: “The company is, in effect, commandeering a private vehicle and using it as a de facto company car for the duration of the journey.”
Driver licence checks are essential, driver policies should be shared with grey fleet drivers, just as they would be with a company car driver.
Similar driver profiling, assessment and training regimes should be in place as with company car drivers; vehicle roadworthiness monitoring should be undertaken including checks on the status of servicing, MoT and Vehicle Excise Duty.
If employers do not undertake such checks and have no system in place for doing so, Turner said: “They could be guilty of causing and permitting an offence. Employers need to take this risk seriously.”
He added: “There is nothing inherently wrong with having a ‘grey fleet’, provided employer risks and obligations are fully understood, and it is managed properly.”