Grey fleet drivers: everything you need to know

Grey fleet vehicles are a big part of business today. If your company has grey fleet drivers or you’re one yourself, there are some risks, rules and regulations involved that are worth considering if you want to maintain safety and avoid legal action.

What are grey fleet drivers?

If employers require their staff to use a vehicle not owned by the business for working purposes, they are grey fleet motorists driving grey fleet vehicles — and the employer is responsible. Generally, a grey fleet driver is someone who either: uses a vehicle purchased via an employee ownership scheme, gets behind the wheel of a privately-rented vehicle for work purposes, or simply uses a vehicle for their job that is privately-owned by them (the employee).

Employers are entirely responsible for grey fleet vehicles. This also includes fuel and other costs that the car owner might face.

Essential legal info

You need to consider the legal issues around grey fleets.

Northgate, a van lease specialist company based in North-East England, researched the idea of grey fleets and found that businesses must be familiar with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 if they are using grey fleet drivers. This is because the act underlines that it’s the requirement of employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees while at work (to a practical and reasonable extent). It also stresses that employers and employees both have a responsibility whenever they are engaging in work-related driving activities to ensure they are never putting others at risk. Even if an employer has company cars for their employees, they have the same responsibility for grey fleet vehicles when carrying out working tasks.

Managing grey fleets

Due to the popularity of grey fleets, there are now online systems available to help companies manage grey fleet vehicles and drivers, including a handy, easy-to-use system from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA). This system enables organisations to record details like: driving licence validity, insurance details (including business use), MOT certifications, and road tax validity. Also, once recorded, it can alert each relevant individual driver and line manager of dates when any of these items are up for renewal.

Oddly, many employers with grey fleet drivers pay little attention to the management of these employees and their vehicles. However, it’s crucial that you have a clear oversight of your grey fleet to ensure paperwork is up-to-date and roadworthy vehicles are maintained to reduce the chances of accidents.

Things you need to know about grey fleets

There are millions of grey fleet vehicles on the roads in the UK. In 2016, a report commissioned by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) — called Getting to grips with Grey Fleet — discovered that employers across the country spend approximately £5.5 billion each year on grey fleets.

However, there are also some concerns regarding the number of grey fleet vehicles on the road. In the UK, about 12 billion miles are covered every year by grey fleet drivers, which causes approximately 3.5 million tonnes of CO2, according to the Energy Saving Trust. To help counter the issues surrounding grey fleets, the BVRLA set out to halve grey fleet mileage and costs by the year 2020 with the assistance of employers and policymakers.

Looking to make a change to your grey fleet?

If you want to lower your company’s number of grey fleet vehicles, you have several alternatives that you could consider…

Switching to rental cars

Renting vehicles is a flexible and easy solution to replacing grey fleets for business travel. Most decent firms rent out vehicles to companies for anything from an hour to over a month at a time. If you go with this option for your business, you can track and monitor different aspects of vehicle usage which is beneficial as you will be able to allocate employees and costs more efficiently.

Create a new scheme

You could introduce salary sacrifices to employees using vehicles for business purposes. How this works, is that your businesses would give its employees the chance to relinquish a part of their income and, in return, receive the non-cash benefit of a new lease vehicle.

“By introducing mandatory licence checking and automatically providing business insurance, the schemes ensure that the company and its employees are fully covered,” said David Hosking, the CEO of Tusker, which is a salary sacrifice market leader.

Company cars

Lowering business mileage usage so that employees can use company cars is another way to cut back on grey fleet vehicles. Beneficially, this gives the company a greater insight into the cars its staff are using. However, this idea has its drawbacks to consider if not handled properly. Admittedly, employees who travel thousands of miles on company time would benefit from a company car. But introducing a great number of new company cars for all employees individually might not be very efficient.