12 Jan 2021
When lockdown is finally over, although we are likely to see much more flexibility around homeworking continue, we will also see millions of employees across the UK return to the daily commute on Britain’s roads and motorways.
Over recent years, more and more people have chosen to trade in their petrol and diesel cars and move instead to hybrid or electric vehicles. Indeed, in November, as part of the government’s plans to accelerate a greener transport future, Boris Johnson announced the end of all petrol and diesel cars and vans in the UK by 2030 and all new cars and vans to be fully zero emission from 2035.
As part of this announcement, a commitment was made to introducing more charge points in towns and cities across the UK and grants were introduced for businesses and local authorities to install charge points, with the aim of making the UK’s electric vehicle network one of the largest in Europe.
Since workplace car parks serve as the next most likely place that an electric vehicle will be charged, after the home, there will inevitably be more demand for employers – and as a result, commercial landlords – to provide charge points as standard, so we have explored some of the major benefits of doing so, as well as the things that will need to be considered.
Recruitment and retention – Being able to offer electric vehicle charging at the workplace will be seen as a major benefit by those employees who already drive – or are considering buying – an electric car. The ability to charge their car at work can potentially double an electric vehicle driver’s all-electric daily commuting range and for people who do not have off-street parking at home, the opportunity to charge their car at work can make driving an electric car a viable option for them.
Public image – It will also help to communicate to existing and potential employees that your organisation is leading the way in technological development. It will be particularly key for any businesses planning to operate an electric vehicle fleet.
Sustainability goals – This move would also help improve your organisation’s sustainability credentials and contribute to any existing environmental objectives related to employee commuting practices, greenhouse gas reductions or transport emissions reductions.
Tenant attraction and retention – Commercial landlords who offer workplace charging facilities will send the message to prospective tenants that they are interested in providing smart, proactive solutions to their present and future needs.
Funding – Incentives are available for those employers and commercial landlords who are seeking to install workplace charge points for employees or tenants. The UK government is operating a Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) which offers financial support for businesses, organisations, charities and local authorities to have charge points installed at their premises. The grant provides up to £350 per socket at 75% of the total cost of installation, up to a maximum of 20 sockets.
Electric cars will have different charging connectivity needs so it is important to install a charging point that is most likely to be compatible with the widest possible range of vehicles. It will also be important to consider the speed of charging as most employees – and certainly any visitors to the workplace – will be keen to charge their vehicles as quickly as possible.
Consider access requirements, particularly when installing charge points in areas that are publicly accessible. Most charging units can be accessed with either a key or card to prevent unwanted usage.
All charge points will need to comply with the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulations 2017. You will also need to consider the extent of your own responsibility as site owner since you may be liable for assessing and managing any health and safety risks arising out of the installation and use of the charge points.
Think too about how you will pay for the installation and maintenance of the charging points. Are the service charge provisions in your tenant leases broad enough to enable you to recharge the costs to the tenants?
If you have a leasehold interest in the building or estate, check whether you will need any consents to install the charging point. Also, will adding charging points affects the building insurance policy or any third party liability cover you may have?
Finally, is planning permission required to install the charging point? Or is any other cabling required to connect it to mains electricity? You will need to ensure the charging point does not exceed the building’s power capacity and consider the contractual arrangements for how the electricity will be sold on to the end user.
For more detailed advice on the legal considerations around installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure for your commercial property or workplace, get in touch with our expert commercial property legal team at email@example.com or call 01633 244233.
Harding Evans is a trading name of Harding Evans LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in England & Wales (registered number: OC311802), authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 419663).