A Measure of the Problem
It is estimated that there are aproximatley 5 million privately owned vehicles being used on a regular basis for company business compared to an estimated 3 million company cars.
This helps explain why the Government, authorities and road safety organisations are determined to ensure that the Duty of Care legislation is applied to these vehicles and their drivers.
Employers should ensure they are familiar with the Duty of Care Legislation and that the legislation refers to employees driving any vehicle on company business—it does not refer to company cars.
A National Problem
A recent report highlighted in Fleet World revealed the following:
83% of companies have no procedures in place for checking non-company cars meet required standards
74% of companies do not check MOT of private cars
36% of companies do not check driving licences for non-company drivers
53% have no idea if non-company cars being used on company business are correctly insured
76% of companies do not carry out risk assessments or driver training for these drivers
56% have no policy in place for reporting accidents in which an employee is involved driving a non-company car
Source: Fleet World – Duty of Care 2008 Guide
Who Does it Apply to?
The Duty of Care Legislation is now an integral part of the Health & Safety At Work Act.
This act requires employers to be responsible for the Health & Safety of its employees whilst at their place of work.
Any vehicle in which an employee is required to or carries out business on behalf of their company is now regarded as a place of work in the same way a traditional office is viewed.
This clearly places any vehicle a employee drives whilst on company business under this act.
Many companies are ignoring this fact and treating the Cash for Cars Scheme as an opt out of their responsibilities for these employees.
Some companies have and will continue to view this area of company legislation that simply eats away at their bottom line need to consider the implications of continuing on this track.
Companies need to recognise this issue and palce as much effort with dealing with this Grey Fleet as they do with their traditional company drivers.
By implementing policies and procedures to manage effectively this growing Grey Fleet companies will actually see a reduction in their costs and an improvement in their bottom line.
Drastic increased costs and negative public image will result if, in the event of a serious incident where blame can be attributed to the operating company involing one of their employees or vehicles carrying out company business.
Courts will be able to hand down unlimited financial penalties for non-compliance, negilence and in the worse case manslaughter.
For many companies it is not a question of IF it happens—it is a question of WHEN it happens.
Determining Company Use
Companies need to be very clear and need to ask themselves are employees driving private cars for company busienss regardless of milege or frequency of use?
Organisations need to develop policies and procedures and monitor effectively the use of private vehicles on company business to ensure they are not exposed.
Employers must be satisfied of the roadworthiness, leagality, servicing and that the employee is insured for business purposes.
Employees driving either infrequently or unfamilliar vehicles for company business will present increased risk.
Unfamilarity with vehicles can present a driver with the inablilty to cope in difficult situations.
Monitoirng the legality and state of privateley owned vehicles will present a particular problem. If unfortunately a vehicle involved in a serious incident is subsequenlty found to be defective or inadequately insured, the employee may well find themseleves the subject of an investigation on the grounds that the risk they took was unacceptable.
In recent driver training programmes, UK Road Safety have established some suprising results, in that both employees and employer had no idea who was driving their private vehicles on company business.
A review of who is actually driving on company business and subsequently removing this option to carry out company business in private vehicles will considerably reduce exposure to risk.
Implementing policies and procedures for company business in private vehicles may seem a costly exercise. It needs to be undertaken and often greater management time will be given to this area than the traditional fleet market.
Remember: Duty of Care Legislation Refers to
Employees driving any vehicle on company business – it does not refer to company cars.