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Controversial change to s47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

There is an important change in dealing with breaches of health and safety regulations of which as an employer of domestic staff: carer, housekeeper, nanny, chauffeur, etc. you need to be aware.

A controversial amendment to s47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 will remove the existing right of an employee to rely simply on a breach of the health and safety regulations in order to obtain compensation from an employer.

The current law provides that where statutory health and safety regulations are not complied with, leading to injury or damage, the claimant can seek compensation on the basis of the employer’s breach of those regulations.  The change means that it will only be possible to claim compensation for accidents which would currently constitute a breach of health and safety regulations where it can be proved by the claimant that the employer has been negligent at common law.

Those who argued for the change claim that it is not justifiable to hold employers liable for incidents outside of their control which could not reasonably have been prevented.

Furthermore, and perhaps more telling, is that such a change is needed to halt a growing compensation culture.  The UK it seems, is not to follow hard on the heels of the US with their culture of litigation.

This change (as s69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013) is planned to come into force on 1 October 2013.

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