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What you need to know about the use of company cars

If you are lucky enough to be supplied with a vehicle by your company, then here are some things you need to be aware of:

Scope of usage. Make sure you are totally clear as to what the company vehicle can and cannot be used for. Whilst most company car drivers use them for non-work journeys, your employer does not have a legal obligation to allow you to use the vehicle for personal use. For example, a ‘pool car’, for use by several different employees, should not be used for personal journeys.

Maintenance. Your employer has a legal responsibility to provide a safe vehicle for you to drive, and should meet the cost of any repairs. However, make sure you take reasonable precautions to stay safe when driving, and keep the car clean and tidy at all times.

Smoking. You can’t smoke in a company vehicle if there is any possibility that the vehicle could ever be used by one of your colleagues, whether as driver or passenger. Additionally, even if none of your colleagues could ever use the vehicle, but you drive for personal reasons with your children in the car, then you also can’t light up.

Insurance. Generally speaking, you should expect the company to insure their own cars. However, if an accident is deemed to have occurred as a result of your negligence, or your decision to drive under the influence, you may be required to reimburse your employer. An exception might be if you were speeding in order to meet an unrealistic business timetable, in which case the company may be held liable. Also, you could be deemed financially responsible if an accident occurs when using the vehicle for personal reasons, unless you have a contract with your employer that confirms they will take responsibility in these circumstances.

Discrimination. An employer cannot restrict the provision of a company car on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or age. If a vehicle is provided to a full-time employee, one must also be available to a comparable part-time employee. A woman who has a contractual right to a company vehicle cannot be stripped of the right to use the vehicle during maternity leave.

Taxation. You’ll pay tax if you or your family use a company car for private reasons.

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