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Growing reliance on grey fleet bringing potential duty of care crisis, says Europcar

UK firms could face a duty of care crisis if they don’t take steps to regain control of the safety and efficiency of their fleets.

A new white paper published by Europcar to coincide with European Mobility Week (16-19 September 2019) says that more fleets are moving to ‘cash for car’ options. While nearly half (49%) of the decision-makers surveyed said they provide employees with a company car or van, almost a third expect their employees to use their own vehicles for business travel. This is in line with Fleet World’s own newly published grey fleet research – carried out with the BVRLA and Alphabet – which implies there’s a growing reliance on grey fleet vehicles to fulfil job-need roles.

HMRC figures indicate a growing migration from company cars to grey fleet vehicles. Latest Benefit-in-Kind statistics published in June suggest the number of company car drivers has dropped by 70,000 in the last two years alone, accelerating an ongoing trend of opt-out drivers and backed by anecdotal evidence from ACFO and the BVRLA.

The new white paper from Europcar Mobility Group UK – ‘Is the evolving mobility agenda supporting businesses today’ – also finds that grey fleet usage is common in bigger companies with over 500 employees, with 49% relying on these types of vehicles. A significant 28% of companies with 10-25 employees also let staff use their own vehicles for business travel.

Nearly a third of businesses surveyed by Europcar said that up to 25% of staff have opted for ‘cash for car’, with 26-50% of the workforce choosing this option for nearly a quarter of companies (23%).

“The high usage of grey fleet vehicles underlines the importance of monitoring employee travel,” said Gary Smith, managing director, Europcar Mobility Group UK. “Yet worryingly, nearly one in five respondents said they don’t monitor employee travel at all.

“The real concern is that the majority of the smallest companies don’t monitor employee travel at all. Combined with firms using less-than-accurate methods, such as self-reporting, this means employers could be failing on their duty of care to drivers.”

His comments come after Simon Turner, campaigns director of RoadSafe, which delivers the Driving for Better Business campaign, said at an ACFO webinar this year that the subject of who owns the car is largely irrelevant as the duty of care to manage occupational road risk is the same. Turner added that more forward-thinking employers are moving away from managing occupational road risk, and they are now looking more broadly at managing safe, sustainable mobility.

Evidence of such a shift to ‘safe, sustainable mobility’ is shown in the Europcar Mobility Group UK white paper, which identifies that businesses are having to adopt new thinking to help cut pollution and congestion, including turning to rental, which used by over a quarter of businesses, rising to 42% among bigger businesses. Other mobility options include car share or car clubs (used by 22% of businesses), taxis (20%) and public transport (22%).

“It is clear we are at a turning point in the challenges faced by businesses to keep employees on the road – firms not only need to consider their duty of care responsibilities but the growing government pressure to reduce emissions,” added Europcar’s Gary Smith. “There are, however, solutions that employers can access, working in partnership with businesses like Europcar Mobility Group UK.”

To download Europcar’s white paper on ‘Is the evolving mobility agenda supporting businesses today?’, click here.

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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