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“The new commute” sparks risk debate for fleets, says Association of Fleet Professionals

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The rise of home working has stirred up a host of issues for fleets when it comes to classifying journeys, says the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP). Namely, does an employee’s home now officially count as their place of work?

This problem has been coined “The New Commute”, and as Paul Hollick (pictured above), chair of the AFP, explained: “If someone is working from home rather than the office then it raises the question of which is actually their place of work. This is important when it comes to both expenses and risk management.

“For example, if someone now drives their own car to the office once a week, are they allowed to reclaim their travel costs using AMAP rates, as they would for any other business journey that they undertake?

“The other major issue is whether, if someone now uses their own car to travel from home to work, whether that is now seen as a business journey from a risk management point of view, rather than a commute.”

According to the AFP, HMRC rules in this area are often inconsistently applied. Traditionally, they have been based on the employee’s contract of employment showing that they were home-based. However, there is also a “reasonableness test” to ensure that the employee is working from home rather than the office for a proportionally greater length of time.

While using “hard and fast” rules may make it easier to deal with taxation, Hollick pointed out that they are often open to local interpretation and fleet could begin to suffer from a lack of uniformity.

He added: “Any employees who work from home for the majority of time but sometimes visit the office using their own vehicles have, strictly speaking, all become grey fleet – and should be subject to all the usual grey fleet management practices.

“Again, we have yet to hear from any fleets who have been in touch with the health and safety executive about this but it is an area that would benefit from future clarification.”

The AFP was formed in March 2020 from the merging of the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) and the Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM).

Merging the responsibilities of both organisations, the AFP represents the interests of businesses that operate cars and vans as part of their normal commercial activities and aims to further the education, recognise the achievements and advance the profession of car and LCV fleet management.