Even if your employer doesn't own a fleet of vehicles, they may still have a so-called “Grey Fleet” which is being utilised frequently, perhaps even on a daily basis.
What is a Grey Fleet? Any time you as an employee use a personal vehicle for a work related task, you are actually using a vehicle from your employer's Grey Fleet. It seems a bit confusing, doesn't it?
That's because these vehicles exist in a “grey” area; they are being used for company business, while not being under the ownership of the company. This introduces a surprising number of complications to a situation that would seem quite simple. So let's explore some of these issues a bit, especially the area of vehicle safety.
What qualifies as Grey Fleet driving?
This is not driving to and from your place of work. Grey Fleet driving pertains specifically to driving your own vehicle for work, whether or not you're being reimbursed for travel. This type of driving covers a wide variety of tasks.
Unless the vehicle you are driving for work is part of an official company fleet with a sign or company name that is clearly visible, then it is part of the Grey Fleet.
Oftentimes, this will be your own vehicle, but a Grey Fleet vehicle can also be one which has been rented, or one for which you are receiving reimbursement to use during business hours. It may even vehicle which the company has leased on your behalf (a novated lease).
What complications does Grey Fleet driving present?
Whenever a vehicle is being driven for company purposes, that company is considered legally responsible for the safety and roadworthiness of the vehicle. And that's why this gets complicated for employers. Because if you were to have an incident on your way to or from work, that would be your own responsibility.
But once you use your vehicle during work hours for non-personal use, any incident you have on the road becomes your employer's responsibility.
Which is why it's especially important for both employers and their employees to have a clear understanding of how to go about using the Grey Fleet safely.
Who is involved, and what are they responsible for?
Whether they are aware of it or not, employers, managers, HR advisors and Health and Safety departments, have a Duty of Care that they are obligated to perform regarding their Grey Fleet.
Unfortunately, many people in these positions may not realise this until after an incident has occurred.
That's why in many cases, it may be in a driver's best interest to ensure that their boss is aware of the current legislation (in this case, the Work Health and Safety Act of 2011) before embarking on any work-related trips in a personal vehicle. Some of the Duty of Care obligations include:
- Providing training to Grey Fleet drivers
- Checking driver licences
- Performing vehicle checks to ensure safety (tyres, signals, lights, etc.)
- Having clearly stated Grey Fleet driving policies
What can businesses do to ensure Grey Fleet safety?
Each company is different, and vehicle usage can vary greatly. But there are several things that Grey Fleet managers can do to maximise the safety of the fleet.
- Have designated vehicles to use for Grey Fleet purposes, and use these exclusively.
- Check vehicle maintenance records regularly. Employees should be able to show that their vehicles are in tip-top shape, and that they are visiting shops or garages which you've approved especially for your Grey Fleet.
- Be sure drivers are licensed to operate the vehicle being driven. This means licences should be valid and up to date, but also should be appropriate to the particular vehicle (as in the case of a heavy duty truck or van).
- Have drivers perform regular safety checks, preferably weekly or before any long trip.
- Consider providing breakdown coverage for Grey Fleet vehicles. This can ensure that all maintenance and repairs are performed to the highest standard, and can prevent risks that could potentially occur when drivers try to do their own roadside repairs.