Company car drivers on the decline?
We read this recent Fleet News article on company car usage with interest – and wondered what the latest figures from HMRC on company car drivers might mean for Fleet Managers.
According to the latest HMRC Data there were 720,000 company car drivers in 2020/21 – 80,000 fewer than the 800,000 reported the previous year – and that’s in a year (2020/21) when a zero percentage Benefit in Kind rate for electric vehicles was introduced. This data is based on the number of employees paying company car tax – indicating the drop of 10% year-on-year.
Grey Fleet – the hidden problem
If employers now have fewer company car drivers in their workforce, what does that actually mean? Do we assume that those who were previously driving for work are no longer employed?
Or, is it more likely that a good proportion of those employees are now driving their own vehicles as part of their job? That’s likely to be the case, and so the next question for fleet managers and those responsible for the safety of their employees within an organisation is how are they managing their compliance and duty of care responsibilities?
When your employees use their own vehicles for any part of their job, you have a ‘grey fleet’ and a number of considerations come into play. Grey Fleet drivers are employees who drive their own cars for business and these drivers play a vital role for many organisations across the UK. They can be a real asset for businesses that don’t incur high business mileage or have few drivers.
However, managing grey fleet drivers can sometimes be daunting and difficult, with mileage, collisions and general vehicle maintenance to consider. As a result, this key risk area often ends up being ignored.
What are the employer’s responsibilities?
Health & Safety Laws require that employers show the same Duty of Care to employees driving their own private vehicles as they do for leased, company-owned or hired vehicles.
A company whose employees drive their own cars for business reasons should have a comprehensive driver and vehicle management programme in place to look after all aspects of safety for their drivers. The aim should be to ensure drivers are legal and compliant and to minimise the risk of their drivers being involved in a collision when they are behind the wheel.
Why Fleet Managers need to manage their grey fleet
There are four fundamental reasons for managing Grey Fleet effectively according to Drivetech
- it’s necessary under motoring law and health and safety legislation
- it makes financial sense
- it can reduce a company’s carbon footprint
- it helps keep your employees safe
To effectively manage the safety of your Grey Fleet, you must first identify the number and type of vehicles there are, and what the vehicles are being used for.
This exercise can often be complex – it may reveal a significant number of employees that you have never considered to be ‘drivers’ and so these employees are not aware of the company policies or procedures in place that relate to driving for work.
If your organisation has a Fleet Manager then this is the best person to take on the responsibility – otherwise it can be undertaken by either HR or Health and Safety teams, or a combination of both.
Once you have understood the scale of your grey fleet, you can move on to ensuring you have adequate driving for work policies in place, which acknowledge the status of your grey fleet drivers.
For help with reviewing your safety at work policies to include grey fleet, take a look at the Driving for Better Business resources here – they’re all free and you can also register for the 7 Steps to Better Driver Management on our website, so that you can monitor your progress on reducing road risk as well as share information with your drivers.