Please could you let me know where I stand on this situation at work? I have a company car. The company changes the lease cars every 12,500 miles, roughly every three months. I noticed that I have a nail in my tyre and the company are refusing to pay for this as they feel that the upkeep of the car is my responsibility. There is nothing as far as I know in my contract stating that I am responsible for repairs on the car that weren't my own fault. Are they breaching health and safety at work law by refusing to pay? My job entails driving roughly 200 miles per day.
Company cars are provided under many different arrangements, but the employer's duty of care is the same in general terms, however, the car is supplied, be it a lease car, a company owned vehicle, an occasional hire car, a pool car, a cash option, a 'user chooser' car. Their duties are also the same if an employee uses their own vehicle for work.
The law states that vehicles must be in a roadworthy condition. The employer's duty of care means that, as part of their policy and procedures for managing work related road safety, they must ensure that vehicles are in a fit condition, for example, by arranging for (or ensuring that drivers pay for) regular servicing and ensuring that drivers carry out daily and weekly checks on safety significant points such as lights, tyres, glass, fluids etc.
Where drivers use vehicles under allowance schemes, this usually includes the cost of servicing and repairs. Under many lease hire arrangements the company supplying the vehicles will have service arrangements with named garages to have the work carried out as part of the contract. However, many employers also require employees to pay some element of the excess in insurance claims, often to incentivise the driver to take care of the vehicle, although linking this sort of requirement to 'fault' is often difficult and can lead to arguments about who is responsible. It can also affect patterns of reporting of accidents and incidents, a vital source of information which is important to the employer to enable them to monitor trends in fleet safety performance.
Health and safety law in general terms prohibits an employer from levying charges on an employee for anything done or supplied to enable them to meet their statutory obligations. For example, you cannot charge a worker for the cost of their protective clothing or equipment or their health and safety training. However, where the employee uses safety related work equipment for domestic as well as work purposes, then the employer may be within their rights to levy a charge for part of the cost and such arrangements, where they arise, are usually agreed through negotiation.
In the case of pool cars used only for work, it would be reasonable to say that employers would not be able to make charges for maintenance and repair. The difficulty arises if the vehicle is also used for commuting or for domestic and leisure motoring. Keeping a careful record of when and where damage occurred might be one way of establishing who was responsible for meeting the cost of repairs. It is most unlikely that the health and safety enforcing authorities would want to get involved in this sort of issue. A better course of action would be to establish what is good practice in the fleet industry and to present this as part of an overall business case for managing occupational road risk.