Many employees drive their own vehicle on work related-business, to visit a client’s premises, attend courses or conferences, or attend meetings. However, not everyone keeps their vehicle in showroom condition – some are a disgrace. As an employer, do you have any right to lay down rules with reference to the appearance of your employee’s vehicle?


It may be that your employees’ car is littered with a vast number of discarded takeaway wrappers, empty drink cans and bottles and may not smell too pleasant inside either. Does it look like a mobile wardrobe full of spare jackets, shoes and bags for that “just in case” moment? Or perhaps you have a young female member of staff who’s taken a lot of care over the appearance of her car but practically everything inside is covered in bright pink fur, e.g. the steering wheel, seats and belts, foot wells, gear stick and door handles. This is certainly an interesting look but when out and about on work-related business, it doesn’t present a professional image, in the same way, that skulls, heavy metal symbols and grunge décor may not be the image you are hoping to portray to your clients. OK, these are a little stereotypical but it happens and you need to know how to manage it when it does.

Safety Issue?

It may be more serious and be a potential safety issue. Maybe you have an employee whose car has a mirror missing, the windscreen wipers have seen better days, one of the back tyres is a bit flat, and it also needs a good clean and polish. Obviously, these are just the bits that can be seen, there could be other safety issues that you aren’t aware of.

As an employer, do you have the right to lay down ground rules on the cleanliness, presentation and safety of personal vehicles?

Employment Law

Although some employees may think that the internal and external appearance of their vehicle is a personal matter, where it’s used for business-related purposes, their employer has every right to lay down some ground rules.

We have a driving whilst on company-related business policy in our HR Toolkit that does just this.

When it comes to safety matters, our policy says that:

  • the vehicle must be maintained in good repair, in an efficient roadworthy condition and serviced at the recommended intervals;
  • regular checks must be made of tyre tread and pressure, lights, brakes, fuel, oil, water coolant, screen wash and battery;
  • the vehicle must conform to current road traffic legislation; and
  • the provisions and conditions of the car insurance policy must be observed so that the policy is not void or voidable.

In relation to general appearance, it states that the employee must take reasonable steps to ensure that their vehicle is in a clean and presentable condition (inside and out) when it’s used for business travel. This is based on the rationale that it represents the company to its clients, customers, suppliers and others.

Finally, the vehicle must not be used for business travel if the employee knows about or suspects it may have a defect or is not roadworthy. Failure to observe these rules can be grounds for disciplinary action. Therefore MOTs must be up to date as a minimum.

If you would like HR advice to develop a specific policy to suit your business needs please do give us a call. We are a friendly bunch and provide outsourced HR support that has a really positive impact on your business. Call us on 01473 360160 or book a free one hour HR consultation here >>

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