This is a brief summary as we were quite shocked with some of the information gleaned from recent management conferences relating to the Grey Fleet. As some people will no doubt already know, the Grey Fleet is simply the term used to describe vehicles that do not belong to the company, but which are used for business travel. ‘This might include a vehicle purchased via an employee ownership scheme, a privately rented vehicle or a vehicle privately owned by an employee’ (ROSPA, 2013). What you may not know, is that the fall in company car numbers over the past number of years means the Grey Fleet grows by c10% year or year. Linked to this, the vicarious liability of the Grey Fleet for many employers naturally increases with people using their own vehicles on company business. Interestingly, a recent survey in Fleet News confirmed that 60% of Directors surveyed didn’t know if they had a Grey Fleet or how big it was.
So, do you know how many of your staff drive on company business in their own car; including those who receive cash allowance in lieu of a company car, or ad hoc business drivers? Furthermore, do you know if the vehicle they are driving is roadworthy? Does the driver have a driving licence? Does their chosen vehicle have the correct insurance cover and MOT certification? [note: the average company car is 1-2 years old and grey fleet alternative is circa 8 years old]. Has there been any assessment in relation to the drivers’ health and ‘fitness to drive’? Do you have a car policy that covers all business usage?
Another worrying statistics from Fleet News, was that 53% of those surveyed incorrectly believed they were not responsible for the grey fleet. Employers are at real risk from ‘claims from third parties’, especially if the drivers do not have the requisite insurance cover (Licence Check, 2019). The risk extends to liability under the Health and Safety at Work Act and failure in terms of duty of care. In the same Fleet News survey, 62% of Directors ‘did not check’ if their employees had the correct insurance and 33% of individual drivers admitted that they did not have the requisite insurance for business travel.
The message from Caroline Sandell of the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) is that ‘businesses are responsible operators’ and should extend their duty of care to those ‘who only drive occasionally’.