Before Christmas the Westminster Coalition sneakily inserted a new clause to the Enterprise and Regulatory Bill which will impact on workers who seek compensation for suffering injury at work.
The clause (Clause 61) was inserted at the Report Stage of the Bill, has not been subject to public consultation, and overturns what has been established law for over 100 years.
Currently regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act contain statutory duties that ensure employers maintain safe workplaces. The Westminster Government wishes to remove what is known as strict laibility. For example as the employee does not have control over the selection, buying or maintenance of work equipment, the employer takes the risk if the equipment injures someone or is defective.
If the proposed change remains it will remove all opportunities for an injured worker to seek compensation from an employer for breach of a statutory duty, and employers will no longer be liable in civil court for breaches of Health and Safety at Work regulations. The only remedy available will be to prove employer negligence.
The Westminster Governments own impact assessment demonstrates that negligence is more difficult to prove.
The reality of this situation is that fewer claims will be pursued and fewer injured workers will receive compensation, and they and their families will have will pick up the consequences whilst Insurance compnaies will be the gainers.
Compensation is not a prize or bonus for employees, it is simply compensation for injury suffered. If this proposal is allowed to stand it will be a further eradication of workers rights in the UK, a dangerous, pernicious, and ideological backward step and a signal to bad employers that they have a better chance of getting away with poor health and safety provision.
This is quite simply a scandalous piece of legislation hidden under the disguise of deregulation.