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Supreme Court rules that employers can be held responsible for actions of employees

A Supreme Court ruling has highlighted a factor of which all employers need to be aware, including those of domestic and household staff.

In the particular case, the Supreme Court has found that the employer of a man convicted of assaulting a customer was held “vicariously responsible” for his actions.

This unanimous judgment by the UK’s highest court confirms the far-reaching consequences of the principle of “vicarious liability” – where someone is held liable for another’s acts – and may make it easier in the future for those aggrieved to sue the employer.

The ruling highlights the need for all employers to educate their staff regarding their actions and responsibilities and  consequences of their actions while acting on behalf of their employers.

To put it shortly, it may well be good practice, to hold a formal discussion with your staff, explain the situation and obtain a signed paper which clarifies that you have carried out this training.

The case involved an employee of supermarket Morrisons, but this of course does not limit the liability to this type of organization.

As an employer of domestic and or household staff, you are in fact an organisation in this respect.

In the ruling, Lord Toulson added. “His employers entrusted him with that position and it is just that, as between them and the claimant, they should be held responsible for their employee’s abuse of it.




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