Employees and their vehicles

Michael GaterEmployees who use their own cars for business journeys are increasingly referred to as the ‘grey fleet’ and can carry a large risk if employers don’t take steps to ensure their safety.

The term ‘grey fleet’ is one which is often banded around the industry.

Put simply this refers to drivers who are not eligible for a company car (for example an administrator who is sent on a training course or an employee going to the bank) or who are part of a cash allowance scheme but who use their own vehicle for business journeys.

These are the drivers, however, that many employers are likely to have very limited knowledge in respect of the type of car they use and how safe it is to drive.

Organisations that have grey fleet drivers will be investigated if any of them are involved in accidents while on business journeys.

If the vehicle involved is deemed to be unsafe to drive, doesn’t have the relevant tax or insurance or if the driver is ineligible to drive at the time, an organisation could be prosecuted under corporate manslaughter laws.

To overcome potential risks employers should treat all drivers the same, whether they are in a company car or use their own car for business be this occasionally or on a regular basis.

To drive the point home, therefore, company policies on fleet should not be limited to those in registered car schemes, but should also be communicated to occasional business drivers as these should contain crucial information on rules such as drink driving or the maximum amount of hours driving can be undertaken each day.

Employees should be encouraged to maintain the car correctly and provide proof of servicing, MOT, insurance, road tax and ensure it is fit for business use.

The main problem behind many organisations’ failure to take such action is that they simply do not see these vehicles as being part of their fleet.

Stop for a moment and have a think about who drives on business in your company. Do you have any ‘grey fleet’ drivers within your organisation? If the worst happened and one of them had an accident would you be exposed?

Michael Gater, director, Staff Cars.