Diligent business owners could unwittingly be putting themselves at risk of significant legal and financial consequences through failing to enact duty of care surrounding their grey-fleet drivers, warns Venson Automotive Solutions. Whilst it has been over three years since the first pandemic lockdown, almost a third (28%) of working adults are still hybrid working with 16%[i] solely working from home. If an employee’s place of work clause in their contract has changed to home working, their privately owned car will automatically join the ranks of the grey fleet, when used for work related travel. Employers who are unaware of their legal obligations to ensure staff owned vehicles used for work related travel are properly maintained and legally compliant, may be unknowingly missing duty of care requirements.
Simon Staton, Client Management Director of Venson Automotive Solutions explains; “Employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. With around half (49%[ii]) of UK drivers admitting to skipping essential servicing and vehicle repairs amidst the cost-of-living crisis, it is more important than ever that processes are in place to manage aspects such as driver licence checking, insurance validity, vehicle condition and mileage audit amongst grey fleet vehicles. Businesses and fleet managers, therefore, need to review their Driving for Work policies as working from home looks set to stay for some businesses.”
It’s not only service and maintenance of grey fleets that businesses must consider. Grey fleet vehicles are often older than company owned cars so can contribute disproportionately to a company’s carbon foot print. In fact, new research reveals that the average car in the UK is now ten years old[iii]. By promoting workplace benefits like salary sacrifice schemes, not only can employees make savings over a retail deal for electric vehicle, but the implementation of such an arrangement supports the ‘green’ agenda for businesses.
“Of course, for many employees, buying a new car is a stretch just now,” says Simon Staton, “The key benefits of salary sacrifice, however, include a fixed all-inclusive monthly fee so drivers don’t get unexpected maintenance costs. Employees also get National Insurance savings, ‘hassle-free’ acquisition, with no credit check or deposit needed and fleet discounts and for some organisations a beneficial VAT position reflected in monthly costs.”
Simon Staton concludes; “With hybrid and homeworking becoming a permanent fixture more cars risk edging into the grey fleet. Business owners and fleet management teams must keep on top of this to ensure they are not putting their firm or employee at risk, especially with an aging, less well-maintained UK car parc. They might also want to consider alternative options like rental or EV pool cars for those occasional driving for work employees. It all helps to cut the burden of managing a grey fleet and reduces CO2 emissions at the same time.”