Vehicles that don’t belong to a company, or aren’t hired or leased by a company, but are driven on company business are called the ‘grey fleet’. It includes vehicles that are privately owned by employees and vehicles privately rented or borrowed.
Companies have a health and safety duty of care to ensure their employees are safe. When a private vehicle is used on work business it becomes part of the company’s responsibility. The company must take steps to ensure that the vehicle is legal to be on the road and that the driver has a current and valid licence (of course, the licence should also be checked for drivers driving a company-owned vehicle, but companies often forget about this for the grey fleet).
It’s much more difficult for a company to manage its fleet when there are employee-owned vehicles unless a particular vehicle is a permanent fixture and has been added to a fleet management system. The company should be monitoring that it is being serviced and it is kept in a roadworthy condition. If a company has specific requirements around grey vehicles used in the fleet then it might also want to, or be required to, provide the same services and benefits to those staff members that recipients of a company-owned vehicle receive, or it must ensure that policies are being followed as regards servicing, insurance, etc.
If a vehicle is being used for a job and it’s not really suitable, this could cause a problem for a company. An example would be where a driver is compelled to use their own two-wheel drive car where a four-wheel drive vehicle with off-road capabilities would be an obvious choice.
The average age of a vehicle in the UK when it is scrapped is 13.9 years. Vehicles of this age usually lack important safety features such as electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and curtain airbags. They almost certainly lack useful safety features that have been recently introduced such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring.
If you are running grey fleet vehicles you should make sure that it is really the most cost-effective way of operating a vehicle fleet, given you risks. Talk with your insurance company, too, as it’s important that your drivers are insured when they are out on business for your company.