Workers, the protected class powering the economy…well so it was before the 1st October 2013. Then, overnight, the Westminster coalition extinguished, wthin s69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, long established protection afforded to workers injured in the course of their employment.
For hundreds of years the law had recognised the imbalance in the relationship between employer and employee. It accepted that the employer holds all the cards and makes all the decisions. In consequence the law sought to address this clear imbalance by affording workers a right to be compensated for breaches of regulations setting out the Health and Safety obligations of employers. Breaches of these regulations carry criminal sanctions which are rarely enforced by an underfunded and overworked Health and Safety Executive. Civil claims however have been used as a powerful tool in ensuring the regulations are complied with as they hit employers where it really hurts, their wallets.
For those who suffer injury, rendering them unable to work, the regulations have provided significant comfort when dealing with the prospect of financial loss and inability to provide for their family. It is a tough process scrimping and saving to get through months or years of rehabilitation to recover. Insurance companies of an employer, as they usually do, draw the legal process out in failing to swiftly accept their liability to pay out on a policy. The end result, however, would be recompense to put them back to the financial position they would have been in if their employers had complied with the regulations and no accident had occurred. On 30th September 2013 that’s how the process would work, injury from a regulation breach would lead to a civil claim which would be straightforward to prosecute against an employer's insurer. Only a day later and due to the Government's actions insurers are able to deny a civil claim, even if the same breach of regulations has arisen, purely because the automatic right to civil remedy is now removed.
Wouldn’t logic suggest increasing numbers of workplace accidents and fatalities meaning greater protection and more stringent checks on employers meeting their obligations? Well not for the Westminster government who seem intent on dumbing down safety legislation to bolster their buddies financial reserves.
Today, we are running a twitter campaign to raise awareness of this civil injustice. Join us in our fight to raise public awareness & in sending a clear message to government that our fight to preserve workers’ safety will never stop.