Employees using their private vehicle for work duties: What employers need to know

26 APR 2022

 

Some employees use their private vehicle for work purposes. Whilst having employees use their private vehicles comes with many benefits, there are also a number of risks that businesses need to be aware of under the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (Act).

If a business fails to properly protect itself and its employees, there is significant risk for breaches of the Act, especially where employees are using their private vehicles. 

Employer Obligations

Often described as the ‘grey fleet’, the term refers to employees who use their private vehicle for work purposes. 

Under the Act, an employer is required to provide all employees with a workplace that is safe and free from risks. This includes anywhere that an employee is required to work, including their vehicle and the travel that they undertake in that vehicle for work purposes.

The Act does not prescribe what a definition of a ‘safe’ workplace is and vehicles fall into an area that is not expressly clear under the Act.

Work Health and Safety

There is no minimum distance or amount of use for a vehicle that determines whether or not the vehicle is covered under the Act, so an employee who uses their private vehicle for any work purposes (even a one off) could fall under the scope of the Act. 

At first instance, there are a number of common sense steps that an employer can focus on, including:

  1. keeping good driving records and records for the safety of the vehicle, including inspections, maintenance and registration.
  2. ensuring all drivers have a valid driver’s license and that regular check-ups are undertaken to ensure compliance.
  3. installing, where appropriate, capture devices, such as dash cameras and tracking to ensure that the vehicle is being used in a safe manner.
  4. ensuring appropriate workplace policies are enacted to direct the use of vehicles for a work purpose.
  5. ensuring records are maintained for which employees use private vehicles for work purposes. 

Risks to Consider

Many employees do not notify their employer when they use their private vehicle for work purposes. 

This raises a concern for employers, and it is important that appropriate policies are put in place to protect employers and their employees.

There is also an issue regarding whether or not employees should be reimbursed for their travel, or making a claim on their tax return for travel and work expenses relating to their vehicle. Appropriate advice needs to be obtained from an accountant as to the implications that this has on all businesses and how to properly manage this financial aspect of employment.

Employers should also check with their insurer, to find out whether employee accidents in private vehicles are covered, and what records and policies employers need to have pursuant to the applicable insurance policy terms. 

What does this mean for your business?

As an employer you need to be aware of your obligations regarding the use of private employee owned vehicles for a work purpose.

It is important that policies and procedures are put in place to not only direct employees but also to protect you as the employer. 

If you are an employer who has a question regarding vehicles used by staff in the workplace, please contact Aaran Johnson of Simon Kumar on (02)4626 5077 to discuss how Marsdens can assist you. 

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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