Changing work practices as a result of the pandemic could bring a “ticking time bomb” for fleets as more drivers turn to grey fleet vehicle usage.
The warning comes from Venson Automotive Solutions in line with existing industry cautions of a noticeable rise in grey fleet use as lockdown conditions ease.
With working from home set to be the new-norm for the foreseeable future, Venson says changes to employee contracts could bring the issue of grey fleet usage to the fore.
If the place of work clause in an employee contract changes to home working, this means that any travel to the office – normally classed as commuting – would become designated as business travel.
And with businesses having a legal obligation to ensure that staff-owned vehicles used for any form of work-related travel are properly maintained and legally compliant, it puts the onus on employers to explore grey fleet management.
Simon Staton, client management director of Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “Employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. Where employers allow own vehicle use, it is important that processes are in place to manage aspects such as driver licence checking, insurance validity, vehicle condition and mileage audit.
“Businesses and fleet managers, therefore, need to review their Driving for Work policies in the post-lockdown era.”
Staton also advises fleets to look at offering vehicle ownership schemes such as salary sacrifice, which can benefit both the employee and the employer through fixed all-inclusive monthly costs, tax and National Insurance savings and fleet discounts.
As well as cutting costs, such schemes can also help support the ‘green’ agenda for businesses.
Research published by the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) has found that the average grey fleet car is older, more polluting and potentially more dangerous than its counterparts. In fact, the organisation’s data find that the average grey fleet car emits 19% more CO2 than the average company car.
In contrast, by offering tax benefits for cars with 75g/km or under – in particular making the most of the current 0% BiK on zero-emission cars, salary sacrifice schemes that incorporate ‘plug-in’ cars can provide a powerful incentive for employees to go green.
Simon Staton added: “With the Government investing in greener transport solutions and offering financial benefits to entice people to ditch older cars for greener alternatives, this is a great time for businesses to research their options.”