Driving at Work has been the fleet industry ‘bible’ for legal risk management standards for many years, so any change is significant, and these revisions do mark quite a major shift. They mean that any business that uses gig economy workers or contractors now have the same responsibility for their drivers and vehicles as any other part of the grey fleet – and that means, of course, they are on the same footing as for their own company cars and vans.
This is potentially impactful. Increasing numbers of vehicles have been operated for businesses outside of usual fleet bounds in recent years, especially as we have seen massive growth in all kinds of home delivery, ranging from internet retail giants to fast food. All of these drivers and vehicles now clearly fall under the same area of legal responsibility as any other company car or van.
Really, the big question here is the degree to which these businesses will move to comply? Levels of grey fleet compliance are arguably not that high and it is perhaps unlikely that your local sandwich delivery business will quickly adopt all of these measures. At the other end of the scale, there may also be resistance from people such as large internet retailers, who might pursue a similar third party argument to that used by Uber in terms of employee rights.
The AFP sees grey fleet as a major area of focus, with webinars and guides being produced in this area, as well as having a specialist Risk, Compliance and Health Committee. This new development makes all of this work even more relevant. However, it should be noted that this is an area where fleet managers can struggle to take control because of lack of support from their board or other departments, who are often slow to acknowledge the need for compliance.