Britain has been revealed to be a nation of hidden business fleets, with a third of British drivers who drive as part of their job shown to be uninsured for business driving. On average, these drivers clock up 4,708 uninsured business miles per year whilst driving for work.
Despite this, HR departments are often uncertain of how to assess this risk and what action to take. Many are still unsure what constitutes a grey fleet. For clarity, any member of staff who uses their own car to make a business journey, however small, can be considered a grey fleet driver.
From an employee making occasional work-related trips, to a high mileage rep who has taken a cash option to purchase their own car – the same criteria applies. The employer is effectively making the decision to use the employee’s car as a company vehicle and therefore, it must be treated as such.
So, the worst has happened; one of your grey fleet drivers has been involved in a serious accident that causes injury to either themselves or another road user. The police will of course launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, and will inevitably pay close attention to the employer’s fulfilment of their obligations under Health and Safety at Work legislation.
You must be prepared to answer questions such as:
- Did the driver have a valid driving licence?
- Was the driver correctly insured?
- Was the vehicle roadworthy?
- Was the driver in a fit state to drive?
- Did the employer have a driving policy in place?
- Did the employer make the driver aware of his/her own responsibilities when driving on behalf of the organisation?
If you’re unable to answer these questions satisfactorily, and to prove that you have done your best to assess and minimise any risk associated with your grey fleet drivers, you risk facing legal action.
So, to ensure you deal with these risks appropriately you need to be certain you’re treating your grey fleet with the same stringent measures as you have in place for your company fleet.
Starting with the fundamental basics:
Documented policies – have a written policy in place to govern work related driving, as well as a drivers’ handbook that clearly details employee responsibilities and why they are important, both for the driver, and for you as their employer. Both documents should be read, understood and accepted in writing by every staff member with driving responsibility.
Licence checking – it’s imperative that you check the driving status of your employees, to ensure they hold a valid licence, aren’t banned from driving, and are permitted to drive the type of vehicle they’re assigned. Furthermore it’s essential to conduct regular rechecks, particularly on those with penalty points/endorsements as these drivers often carry an increased level of risk.
Insurance – an employee’s private motor insurance policy for social, domestic and pleasure use will generally only cover them to travel between their home and one main place of business, so in commandeering them to use their own vehicle on business, you have a duty to ensure they adjust their level of insurance accordingly. If the employee doesn’t have business motor insurance, you could be seen to be permitting them to drive without the correct level of cover in place, thus breaking the law.