Fleet News

Cash schemes falter over health and safety

AN increasing number of employers who have switched from company cars to cash allowances are seeking professional help as many of their drivers are buying cars unfit for business use.

Provecta Car Plan, which provides alternatives to the company car, said it was handling a surge of enquiries from concerned directors who feared their policy no longer protected them against proposals for corporate manslaughter legislation.

A number of fleet executives now realise their cash allowance schemes lack the necessary controls to ensure vehicles being used for business journeys are properly maintained and insured, or even the right vehicle for the job, Provecta executives say.

Managing director Nick Sutton said: 'With the very real threat of company directors on trial for serious accidents involving their employees driving on company business, employers are quite rightly taking a very close look at the cars their employees are using.

Straight 'cash for car' allowances make the very big assumption that employees will select the right vehicle for the job, then insure and maintain it properly.

Some companies have tried to protect themselves by having drivers sign a disclaimer to say they have suitable insurance and MOT records. This may not be enough for the new legislation, particularly if the employer does not apply due diligence.

'Sadly, our work for companies wanting to control their cash allowance schemes shows that many employees are, albeit unwittingly, putting themselves and their employers at risk.'

Under proposed Government legislation, employers' liability will be extended to include manslaughter charges if deaths are caused by 'management failure'. In the case of accidents involving company cars, this will include cars found not to be 'fit for purpose', poorly maintained or inadequately insured.

Sutton claims it is relatively simple to put controls in place when companies have introduced a cash option.

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