Grey Fleets: What They Are, And Why You Need To Manage The Risks

The United Kingdom’s ‘grey fleet’ is estimated at around 14 million vehicles. Despite this, many businesses are completely unaware of the potential risks, or even if they are actually running a grey fleet.

Grey fleets are vehicles which are privately owned, but used by employees for work purposes. Whilst increasingly common, there are various risks involved for the employer. Here we reveal those risks, and discuss the various vital aspects that you will need to consider should you run a grey fleet.

Do you operate a grey fleet?

Any vehicle that is owned by a member of staff, but that is used for business purposes, comes under the banner of a grey fleet.

Whether you have staff regularly driving to meetings, or you simply ask an employee to pop some documents over to a client, it is all considered company business and will therefore fall under grey fleet rules. But what exactly are ‘grey fleet rules’?

As soon as an employee uses their own vehicle for work purposes, the employer becomes legally responsible for ensuring the safety of the employee under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

In addition, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 place a legal duty upon employers to assess and manage the risks to which employees are exposed, and this includes driving for work.

How to manage grey fleets?

Traditional in-house fleet management is easier to deal with then grey fleet management, as the vehicles are directly under your control and form part of your own fleet insurance.

The trouble with grey fleets is that you may not know whether the vehicles are roadworthy, or even adequately insured. But you will still hold responsibility for the health and safety of the drivers.

You should start by assessing whether your employees drives for work related purposes. If they do, then the following steps should be taken:

  1. Record and monitor whether the staff member’s vehicle is insured, has a current MOT, is taxed, and is up to date on its servicing. You may wish to request evidence of all of these facts.
  2. Put a policy in place so that staff are clear on the importance of maintaining their vehicles. You could include points such as the need to regularly check tyres, oil, water, windscreen washers, wipers and lights on a regular basis. You may even wish to go a step further and provide training resources, such as online videos, on how to carry out these tasks.
  3. Advise staff on the importance of carrying a first aid kit, torch, blanket, fire extinguisher, warning triangle and high-vis jacket in their vehicles, or better still, provide these items for them, so that you can be sure they have them to hand in the event of an emergency.

Do you need to run a grey fleet?

You may actually be able to avoid running a grey fleet with a little creative thinking. Perhaps ask yourself:

  • Is the journey made by your employees absolutely necessary? If they are attending face-to-face meetings, could these be replaced with virtual meetings?
  • Are reasonable alternatives possible? Public transport could be a solution for example, and if you are prepared to cover the costs, then this will act as an incentive.
  • Could you stretch to leasing or purchasing a pooled vehicle that would be more under your control?

How to keep staff safe at the wheel?

If it is absolutely necessary to run a grey fleet, then it is important that you take steps to ensure your staff stay safe behind the wheel. Here are some ideas that could help with this:

  • Check driving licences via the DVLA when a new staff member joins, and then on a regular basis. If points are accumulating, this could indicate individual risk.
  • Ask employees to provide proof of Class 1 business use motor insurance.
  • Provide training for drivers on what to do in the event of an accident or breakdown. Also consider post-accident reviews to identify any training needs, looking at why the accident happened, and whether it could have been avoided.
  • If there are drivers at particular risk, such as those who travel long distances, consider providing advanced driver training.
  • Make it clear that there is zero tolerance of drink or drug driving, and of using mobile phones whilst driving.
  • Make it a policy that eyesight tests are undertaken at appropriate intervals. This would normally be every two years for under 45s, and every year for over 45s.
  • Provide breakdown assistance for reassurance that staff will be safe in the event of an issue with their vehicle.

Once you have policies and procedures in place, be sure to monitor them closely. You may also consider app-based telematics as a cost-effective way to monitor driving quality.

Looking for vehicle insurance?

Whether you are looking to recommend cover for your staff, or you need commercial fleet insurance, Robert Gerrard can help with tailored cover, supported by a personal service.

To discuss your vehicle insurance needs, you are welcome to get in touch.