CHANGES to the Health and Safety Executive Driving at Work policy 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.
This means they are on the same footing as for their own company cars and vans.
The Driving at Work policy 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.
Paul Hollick, chair of the Association of Fleet Professionals, said: “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.”
FleetCheck, said it has been arguing for some time that everyone from courier to fast food delivery drivers should be covered under normal fleet management responsibilities.
Managing Director Peter Golding, said: “Businesses that have operated on the basis that they have no or limited liability to third parties of this kind have had their legal position made clear. They need to ensure that any fleet activity that is carried out on the behalf of their business meets usual standards.
“Just ensuring that a driver holds a valid licence and a vehicle is insured and has an MOT is almost certainly no longer sufficient. This marks a potential major expansion of fleet management responsibilities for businesses ranging from home delivery giants to your local take away.”
However, Peter said that there would be a question mark over how quickly these responsibilities would be met, given the track record of many businesses.
“These new responsibilities appear to be similar, or effectively the same, as those covering grey fleets, and that is an area where quite large numbers of employers fail to enforce the same standards as for their own company cars and vans.
“We don’t expect to see any sudden rush to meet the guidance, therefore. This is something that will probably take a number of years to percolate through the fleet sector.”