Today, an intern named Luke Bailey looks at the impact of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act in relation to claims for compensation.
From 1st October 2013, changes have been introduced to Employee Liability claims as part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act. The general consensus is that this makes it more difficult for those injured at work to succeed in compensation claims, whilst upholding health and safety requirements as directed by European Law.
The primary effect of the reformed legislation is that people injured at work will now have to prove their claim in negligence. In theory, this should make it easier for employers to defend claims. However, employers will have to show they have not been negligent, therefore still incurring the time and costs of producing evidence and preparing statements.
Crucially, it should be noted that the range of Health and Safety Regulations currently in place have not been revoked. Key duties, such as risk assessment, avoidance and reduction, suitable equipment and provision of information and training, remain in place. These, of course, remain consistent with the non-delegable duty owed at common law by an employer to an employee.
The burden on Claimants under new legislation has increased, as in order to be successful, they must prove negligence on the part of the employer. The purpose of this is to reduce costs associated with compensation claims to businesses, and ensure the case is assessed fairly. Further, the removal of strict liability for events that the employer could do nothing about, for example, a piece of equipment unexpectedly becoming faulty and injuring the employee, has been welcomed by defendants and insurers.
It is foreseen that the changes may not reduce the number of cases, but will impact the number of successful compensation claims, which has obvious positive financial implications for businesses.
In summary, those injured at work will no longer be able to solely rely on a breach of Health and Safety Regulations to establish liability. Instead, compensation will only be achieved if the employee can prove, on the balance of probabilities, negligence on the part of the employer.