The grey fleet is an important but often neglected aspect of fleet management. The grey fleet consists of employee-owned vehicles, bought with their own money and reimbursed on a pence per mile basis. It is estimated that there are approximately four million grey fleet cars in the UK– more than three times the number of company cars. Therefore, it is crucial that opportunities to reduce emissions and cut costs are identified. Effective management of the grey fleet is crucial with respect to three key policy areas: financial efficiency, health and safety and environmental sustainability.
For many organisations that operate a grey fleet it will not be practical to eliminate it entirely. For some employees and some journeys, continuing use of the grey fleet will be the best all round option. However, it must be managed properly, and often this is not the case.
The Business Case
The business case for managing the grey fleet stems from the significant amount of money that many organisations spend on reimbursing employees. Managing the grey fleet carefully may well have financial benefits in terms of reduced mileage reimbursement payments. But the importance of employers’ duty of care must not be overlooked. The law is clear – an organisation has a legal duty of care to an employee, regardless of vehicle ownership, so the grey fleet needs to be managed as diligently as company-owned or leased vehicles. Some key factors to consider include:
The most dangerous thing many people do at work is drive. Up to one in three road crashes involves a vehicle being driven for work and it is estimated that there are around 200 work-related deaths or serious injuries on the roads every week. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates the costs arising from ‘at-work’ road traffic accidents to be in the region of £2.7 billion per year. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that “it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees.” Employers have a duty of care, therefore, to their employees, no matter how small their grey fleet Furthermore, under the Corporate Manslaughter Act (2007), companies can be prosecuted for deaths of drivers resulting from work-related journeys where negligence is proven. If it can be demonstrated that senior management are responsible for a gross breach of duty of care resulting in death, penalties can be applied including unlimited fines and publicity orders. Therefore it is important for organisations to be proactive in managing