Fleet News

Duty-of-care plea on private car use

SMALL businesses are desperately in need of help and support to meet their duty-of-care to employees driving on business.

This view comes from two industry groups which both claim fleets should be placing a greater onus on drivers not included under the traditional company car scheme.

Research from Zurich Risk Services has shown that more than half of companies are failing to look after the needs of employees who drive private vehicles for business use.

Andy Price, senior risk consultant for Motor Fleet at Zurich Risk Services, said: ‘Employers are required to conduct risk assessments of their employees before letting them drive on business. But our research demonstrates that many employers are not risk assessing employees that use privately owned vehicles for work-related travel.

‘We are urging companies to look at areas such as the vehicle’s fitness for purpose, its age, engine capacity, safety features and service history.’

Smaller fleets appear to be less likely to look after the needs of own car drivers, according to the research. Seven out of 10 companies with fewer than 10 employees said they do nothing in terms of risk assessment compared to four out of 10 companies with 100 or more employees.

However, employees using a private vehicle at work should have the same health and safety procedures as company car drivers, according to James Sutherland, managing director at Peak Performance.

He said: ‘The actual ownership of the vehicle is irrelevant in meeting health and safety requirements.

‘Companies should not perceive the movement towards private ownership in any way, shape or form as a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If the car is used for at-work driving, then there still remains a strong duty of care from the company of the driver.

‘The less control companies have over the provision of the vehicle the harder it is for them to ensure that vehicles being used are fit for purpose and are being regularly checked and maintained.’

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