Getting a grip on grey fleets

If you’re in a business which requires employees to be on the road at times, in order to conduct their work, there is a chance that you will be responsible for grey fleet drivers. In some businesses, employers require their employees to use their own vehicle for working purposes.

What are grey fleets?

Grey fleets are vehicles that are used by a company but are not owned by the company. As a result, a grey fleet driver may be someone who uses a vehicle that was purchased via an employee ownership scheme, gets behind the wheel of a privately rented vehicle or simply uses a vehicle that is privately owned by the employee themselves.

When grey fleet vehicles are used, the employer will usually cover the costs that occur such as fuel – or this could be paid in return with a cash allowance.

The legal aspects

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974 should be studied when an employer is considering using a grey fleet. This is because the act underlines that it is the requirement of employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees while at work, so far as it is reasonably practicable. It also stresses that employers and employees have a responsibility whenever they are engaging in work-related driving activities to ensure they are never putting others at risk.

This act presents that employers will have the same responsibility legally, and the same duty of care if the vehicles were owned by the company.

The RoSPA have created a walkthrough for employers to look at when they are using grey fleets to make sure they are doing everything in match with the law so no issues occur with the business. Not only does the system enable organisations to record details like driving license validity, insurance details including business use, MOT certification and road tax validity, but once recorded, it can alert each relevant individual driver and line manager of dates when any of these items are up for renewal.

What you need to know about grey fleets

From data recorded by Lex Autolease, they found out that in Britain, there are currently 14 million grey fleet drivers. A report commissioned by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) titled Getting to grips with Grey Fleet has also suggested that employers across the nation are racking up a bill of around £5.5 billion each year to cover the grey fleet.

With 12 billion miles covered per year with grey fleet vehicles, the Energy Saving Trust found out that there is an astonishing 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 produced.

John Webb from Lex Autolease commented: “Worryingly, 22 per cent of fleet managers think there are no serious risks to the company from employees using their own cars for work. But driving is the most dangerous activity for most employees while at work, and 62 per cent of private car use is for work-related activity, so duty of care, regardless of the vehicle’s ownership, should be a top priority.”

By 2020, the BVRLA want to have helped reduce 50% of mileage and costs in regard to grey fleets on our roads – although they require the support of employers and policymakers.

Different options for grey fleets

Van lease specialists Northgate have suggested different ways that employers can make a difference. As an employer, do you want to lower the amount of grey fleet vehicles that you use? There’s a number of alternatives available for you and your employees to consider…

Implementing a new scheme

A salary sacrifice could be implemented for companies that use grey fleet vehicles for business purposes. This would work in that businesses would give employees the chance to relinquish a part of their salary and in return receive the non-cash benefit of a new lease vehicle.

Newer vehicles are causing less pollution as they are better maintained in comparison to older vehicles that are being used. David Hosking, the CEO of salary sacrifice market leaders Tusker, commented: “They … meet duty of care concerns and, by introducing mandatory license checking and automatically providing business insurance, the schemes ensure that the company and its employees are fully covered.”

Could renting vehicles be a new avenue?

If an employer was to use a rental service, they would be giving their employees the luxury of using new cars – this method is also beneficial because renting car services are flexible. This last point is underlined by the fact that vehicles can be delivered for the company to use for as little as an hour at a time or for a month or more.

When an employer has created a deal with a renting service, they will be privy to a produced report by the rental service which can monitor the usage and vehicle emissions that will then allow them to work out the entire cost.

The use of company cars

To reduce the number of grey fleet vehicles, a company can lower their business mileage that will allow workers to drive a company vehicle.

John Webb from Lex Autolease responded: “This means that the business has more control, or at least some say, over the car that drivers have.”

Jon Burdekin from Alphabet, a fleet management company, commented: “I wouldn’t say it is necessarily the most strategic way to manage your grey fleet. If you’ve got somebody who’s doing 10,000 business miles a year in their own car, then there is an argument to say they should have a company car because they are more than an occasional user. However, I wouldn’t say increasing the company car fleet is right. It is an option, of course. You can give every single employee a car, but it’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”