Grey Fleet And Duty Of Care

Almost every company has a ‘grey fleet’, whether it knows it or not. It consists of vehicles owned privately by employees who use them to get to and from work. But this can cause a business problems, mainly through expense and risk. The former is a product of mileage claims and car allowances; around £5.5 billion is spent on these every year. As for risk, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 made it clear that employers and companies could be held accountable for acts of manslaughter, making it more important than ever to demonstrate duty of care.  

What Is Duty Of Care? A general definition of duty of care is ‘a moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety or well-being of others.’ In legal and employment terms, this means employers have an obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care to their employees, ensuring that risks are mitigated and appropriate safety measures are implemented. In other words, corporations and employers are liable for the safety of their staff.

What Does the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 Mean? The Act was introduced to ‘broaden’ the scope of corporate manslaughter and came into force on April 6th 2008. In British law, a corporation is considered a juristic person and is therefore regarded as being capable of committing, being convicted and sentenced for a criminal offence. Before it was introduced, a corporation could only be convicted of manslaughter if an individual employee committed an offence in full and was seen as representing the ‘mind’ of the company i.e. was a senior figure with a level of power over decision-making.

But why it is important for fleet managers and companies with grey fleets? Because it means they have a fundamental responsibility of keeping members of staff safe whilst using their own vehicles. This might sound unusual, but in the state’s mind they’re using their vehicles for purposes of work which makes it your responsibility i.e. it falls under the considerations of the business.

Demonstrating Duty Of Care For Your Grey Fleet: Demonstrating duty of care to your grey fleet isn’t particularly different to any other part of the business. Practically, it means creating a specific policy and ensuring that it meets the demands of your staff and the businesses’ operations.

Having a specific policy and then demonstrably implementing it on an on-going basis is your best defence against any unsavoury allegations. Make sure that you assign responsibility to a specific member, or members, of staff. Someone from your fleet, HR department or even health and safety may be suitable. What all of this does is demonstrate both consideration and clarity. 

The next step is to try to accurately determine the level of risk you and your employees are facing. To do this, you should consider the vehicles within the grey fleet, their model, age and service histories. Insurance data and telematics are invaluable here. Collecting and collating data is obviously time-consuming, which is why it’s so important to formalise and streamline processes. You should also be regularly assessing whether members of staff are fit to drive in the first place. This means checking licenses and endorsements, ensuring they have appropriate insurance and have no medical impediments.

You must also ensure that you’re monitoring the behaviour of drivers whilst they’re behind the wheel. Telematics is naturally the best way of doing this, and you shouldn’t be afraid to stress the importance of this. If you can identify bad drivers and then take measurable steps to making them improve, you’ll have a mix stronger defence in the long-term.

There’s only so much a business can do in terms of ensuring grey fleet vehicles are well-maintained and properly serviced. However, what you can do is demonstrate that you’re stressing the importance of both and actively encouraging members of staff to take them seriously. Monitor when vehicles are due their MOT or a service and remind members of staff in a tangible way.

How Can Businesses Reduce The Size of Their Grey Fleets? Of course, the best way to eliminate the risk associated with grey fleet vehicles is to reduce the amount of them being used for business purposes. The most reliable way of doing this is simply offering alternative methods of travel and commuting. Company cars, for instance, are much more clear-cut than car allowances and privately-owned alternatives. In addition, why not foster a culture of car-sharing or incentivise public transport? The fewer grey fleet vehicles you have, the less time and effort has to be spent on monitoring and regulating them. Pool cars, daily rentals and car clubs can all play a part in the process, too. 

Autoserve’s Fleet Card costs just £10 a vehicle per month. With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, we can keep your fleet moving and operational. Call one of our professional Service Advisers on 0121 521 3500 for more details. 

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