Driving for Work – The Grey Fleet

driver2This phrase is one that has been coined in recent times, and it refers to a situation where an employee’s own vehicle is being used for business purposes.

Following the clarification by the HSE’s Driving at Work’, publication, most employers are now aware that health and safety laws apply to on-the-road work activities, in the same way as to all other work related activity. The risks must therefore, be demonstrably, and effectively managed within an employers health and safety system.

In recent times, companies have adopted the policy of “cash for cars”; the car allowance.

Companies have used this policy as a means of standing out from the crowd, when it comes to attracting quality staff.

However, this can in some cases create a sizeable risk for an employer, which often goes under the radar, until there is a problem.

Under Health and Safety Law , the duty of care, owed to staff that drive their own vehicles for work, is exactly the same as that owed to staff that drive company owned vehicles. Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, an employer has an absolute liability (Post Office vs. Stark 2000) to provide safe equipment for employees to use as part of their job, regardless of who actually owns the equipment.

In addition, it is also an offence under road traffic law, to ‘cause or permit’ a person to drive a vehicle without a valid license, in a dangerous condition or without third party insurance.

Therefore, employers that operate a “cars for cash policy”, are still subject to the same level Health and Safety responsibility, in terms of company use, as they would if the vehicles were owed by or leased to the company. In terms of “cause or permit” offences, the position is the same, whilst the vehicle is being driven on company business.

Here are a few questions that employers may want to consider asking, where employees use their own vehicles for work purposes are:

  • Does your “driving for work policy, deal with vehicle road tax? If so, how is this communicated to the employee, reinforced and monitored? is taxed, has a valid MOT and appropriate business-use insurance cover
  • Does your policy state that the employee’s vehicle should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s schedule? If so, how is this communicated to the employee, reinforced and monitored?
  • Does the employee insure the vehicle or business use? How is the need for this cover communicated, and who is the responsible person within the company that will keep the records.
  • Are the vehicles that are being used for company business; fit for purpose?
  • How do you communicate to your employees, the need to report accidents, or motoring convictions, work related or not?

Remember: Ignorance of the law, is no excuse…………..or defence!