Almost every business has some form of management system that monitors and manages their own fleet of vehicles. But what about your ‘Grey fleet’.
Grey Fleet is the term used to describe any vehicle that is used for business travel which does not belong to your company This management process will generally be controlled and managed by a fleet manager, director or senior member of your business.
Tracking MOT’s, Insurance, Tax, servicing and driving licenses of permitted drivers is all part of the responsibility of this role. However, many businesses stop at the vehicles they own and ignore or overlook their ‘grey fleet’.
This is a very dangerous thing to do.
So what is a ‘grey fleet’?
Your ‘Grey fleet’ is the term used to describe any vehicle that is used for business travel which does not belong to your company. This can include a vehicle privately owned by an employee, a vehicle purchased via an employee ownership scheme or a privately rented vehicle.
When any of these vehicles are driven on company business (often in return for a cash allowance or fuel expense) these vehicles are then considered part of your ‘grey fleet’ and as such fall under the responsibility of the employer to ensure they are safe and suitable for their intended use.
Remember, just because an employee does not use a company-provided vehicle for a business journey it does not absolve the company or fleet manager from their duty of care responsibilities as the company still has a legal duty of care to that employee (regardless of vehicle ownership).
Because of this responsibility, your grey fleet should be managed in exactly the same way as company owned or leased vehicles.
How to manage your ‘grey fleet’?
Managing your ‘grey fleet’ is in fact very straight forward. In the simplest of explanations, all you have to do is to align the management of your ‘grey fleet’ with the same systems monitoring and controlling the vehicles that you own ensuring that you record and maintain:
- Insurance details (include appropriate business use).
- Current and valid MOT certification.
- Current Road Tax validity.
- Driving license validity for the driver.
- Regular service documents.
In addition to this, you will also need to consider the suitability of the vehicle for work purposes. This could include the age and condition, or whether the vehicle is equipped with ABS, ESP, and whether or not it is suitable for the journey requirements of the company.
Remember, regardless of the ownership, it remains your responsibility to ensure that any vehicle used in connection with your business meets the legal road requirements.
The risk you can personally face
In the situation of a ‘grey fleet’ the employer has a duty of care to the employee (and general public) ensuring safe use of any vehicle for which they are responsible on the public highway.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 which means companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.
This relates directly to managing your ‘grey fleet’ in a responsible way.
The Act allows the prosecution of an organisation or individual where an employee has died as a result of the organisation’s gross failure to comply with health and safety legislation. This potentially exposes the senior management of any organisation as they can face a criminal prosecution before a jury in the Crown Court.
If convicted, the courts can impose unlimited fines, remedial orders requesting that immediate actions are taken and publicity orders requiring the organisation to publish details of its conviction.
The law allows prosecution for gross failures in the management of health and safety within a company as a whole, when that failure results in a death. With fines uncapped and with the power by the H&S Executive to impose prison sentences this should be taken very seriously.
The tests for a Corporate Manslaughter prosecution include the following questions:
- Were the organisation’s health and safety activities organised or managed in a way that fell far below the standard that could reasonably be expected and directly or indirectly caused the death?
- Did the organisation’s conduct amount to a gross breach of a Duty of Care to the deceased?
- Was a substantial part of the failure within the organisation at a senior level?
- ‘Senior level’ means the people who make significant decisions about the organisation or
- substantial parts of it. This includes both centralised, headquarters functions as well as those in operational management roles.
In addition, It will not be necessary for the management failure to have been the sole cause of death. The prosecution will, however need to show that “but for” the management failure (including the substantial element attributable to senior management), the death would not have occurred.
A jury will consider how serious that failure was, how much of a risk of death it posed, attitudes and policies and accepted practices within the organisation which encouraged the failure or produced tolerance of it, as well as looking at the level of Health and Safety guidance.
So in conclusion, the question that you need to ask yourself is are you managing your ‘grey fleet’ effectively and can you evidence this?
Failure to do so could prove very costly indeed to you and your business.
Article supplied by Nigel Bailey of Wrightsure, Stockport.
Image – Jill Wellington