The APIL has voiced concerns that the conditions of Section 69 of the newly introduced ERR Act will give bosses license to ignore Health and Safety guidelines.
Referring to Section 69 as a “charter for rogue bosses”, the APIL believes that liability for injuries at work has gone so far in the opposite direction, they’re open to abuse.
Section 69 becomes law. Eventually
The cutting of accident at work red tape for employers has been coming. If the government holds true to none of its other pledges, this one they’ve managed to get through.
It’s not been plain sailing. In Spring this year, the House of Lords defeated the bill to usurp liability from the employer for personal injury in the workplace. Not just once, but twice.
However, the following month, the House of Commons bent to the Government’s will and the decision to make employees prove their employer’s liability was passed.
APIL issue stern warning over Section 69 implications
Now that the full extent of what that means is in black and white legislature, it has sent shockwaves through the APIL membership.
Matthew Stockwell, APIL’s president, was quick to see the implications of Section 69. Those not at fault but injured at work are going to have a tough time securing justice from their employer.
All relevant information pertaining to any work-related injury case is held on record by the employer. Not only reporting of the accident and witness statements, but important Health and Safety audit and machinery maintenance records.
Mr Stockwell believes that the inaccessibility of this information, and the lengths that will have to be sought to avail personal injury solicitors of it if they’re to fight a winning case, will be so grandiose that many injured victims will not bother to claim against their employer.
Taxpayer to pick up the tab for unproved negligence
The implication goes beyond the employer and the employee. Should the employer be found guilty, all expenses are picked up by them.
However, without a case coming to court an employer doesn’t have to pay sick pay, hospital fees or benefits of any kind. The State will pick up the tab for all of these costs.
In a time where austerity still rules, it seems as if the House of Commons has bitten its nose off to spite its face by passing Section 69 in the form that we now see it’s taken.
Of course, not all employers will fit subscribe to the “charter of rogue bosses”. Many, as Stockwell said, will not use the law to their advantage in any deceitful manner.
But for those that do, the implications will be felt by “society as a whole”.
Slipping standards could lead to tougher sentencing
Another view from the legal sector is that the new rules will be “largely ineffective”. Well, at least from the aspect of making personal injury claims from an employee’s perspective.
They countered their statement by adding that should complacency seep into an organisation because the laws appear somewhat relaxed, the penalties for employers could be far worse.
Corporate or gross negligence manslaughter charges are still very much an option for the most serious of cases. If standards do start to slip, the fear is that alongside more fatalities there will be more and tougher sentencing of offenders under Section 69.