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Risks inherent in the 'grey fleet'

07 December 2007

Employees using their own cars at work are a 'health and safety timebomb' according a new report from fleet management specialists, Arval.

The rise in employees using their own cars on business has created a fleet of unchecked and unmanaged drivers who are a potential H&S timebomb for employers likely to be a prime target for new Corporate Manslaughter legislation.

A new report from Arval, a leading business car specialists, on the 'grey fleet' has highlighted that as many as one in four vehicles used on business could be at risk. Amounting to over one million cars, these vehicles are potentially poorly maintained and incorrectly insured raising fears for driver safety.

Named because of the lack of information known about such vehicles, the 'grey fleet' describes drivers' own vehicles used for business travel.

Employers are failing to check even basic details about private vehicles. The report highlights that 83 per cent of businesses have no procedures in place to check that non-company cars are regularly maintained, while 74 per cent of businesses do not ask their employees for a valid MOT certificate for their vehicles. The report also reveals that 35 per cent of businesses do not check the driving licences of noncompany car drivers and 53 per cent have no policy for knowing that the vehicle is insured for business use.

These vehicles typically sit outside the normal company car policing and reporting channels. The 'grey fleet' has grown as a result of employees opting-out of company car schemes for cash alternatives and employers wanting to provide more flexible benefits.

The report shows that both large businesses and SMEs are susceptible to these risks as a result of poor management of their grey fleet. Small businesses, which often lack the resources to dedicate full time staff to vehicle management, are shown to be most at risk from the 'grey fleet'.

Jenny Powley, Arval director of corporate groups, comments: "It is clear that grey fleet vehicles are not subject to the same rigorous reporting and inspection procedures given to company cars, which is deeply worrying as employers have a duty of care to ensure that employees are safe while driving at work. Relying on employees themselves to keep their vehicle properly maintained and with the correct documentation leaves a company severely exposed to legal action through negligence and failing to meet duty of care obligations. We are concerned that there are potentially thousands of these vehicles being driven that are unsafe and not fit-for-purpose, putting employees and other drivers at risk."

The findings of Arval's research are given all the more meaning with the introduction this year of the Corporate Manslaughter Act, which becomes law from next April. The Act reinforces the obligation on a company to comply with existing health and safety legislation and makes it easier to prosecute companies following fatal accidents. The actions of senior management involved in any prosecution will be put under renewed focus as a result of the new law.

....The Grey Fleet report can be downloaded from

Risky systems
Nothing has demonstrated more completely the risks businesses take in not having foolproof business systems than the ‘loss’ of the personal data 25 million people from the Benefits Agency. There have been pages of print and hours of TV and radio time spent analysing the failure since the announcement in a shocked Parliament last month. This will have prompted a flurry of activity among many businesses and organisations checking and rechecking IT system security and processes.

Increasingly, Government activities are being outsourced and FM and business services companies are taking on the responsibility and risk of delivering services close to the core of departmental business. This gives our sector a particular responsibility to ensure that its role is one that is above reproach. The reputational damage to the Government is incalculable and it will be tested at the next election. However, few private sector companies could survive undamaged from such a debacle.

Winners in the spotlight
This issue applauds the winners of the PFM Awards ceremony held in London last month. The photographs of the winning teams reflect the glow of pleasure in topping the poll in front friends, colleagues, clients and the FM sector as a whole. The Awards dinner is the culmination of a process that ensures that entrants fully examine their relationship with their clients and partners. PFM is often told by finalists what a valuable process this is. In any relationship, be it business or personal, you rarely sit down with your partner to assess what has been achieved so far. This in turn reveals what else needs to be done and sets a timetable to achieve the next set of goals. A feature of becoming a finalist in the PFM Awards is not about being perfect. It is more about identifying together what has been achieved on the road to being as good as possible. This takes time, patience, insight, innovation and hard work. Well done to all our finalists and winners.

Looking ahead
In just a few weeks we will be welcoming another New Year. What will 2008 hold for FMs? The financial turmoil of recent months suggests that uncertainty and possible recession are on the horizon. Signs of a business downturn are becoming evident but this need not be a concern for the FM sector as client organisations inevitably re-examine their property and FM strategies to minimise costs and maximise efficiencies. A quarter of a century ago, FM was born out of recession. It is a much more mature and sophisticated business now. It is also much more embedded into client organisations’ strategies and processes, and much more attuned to the ups and downs of their businesses. If nothing else, it will be an interesting ride!

Link: Arval

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