The latest blow to rights of employees at work is the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which is very bad news for employees in both public and private sector. It takes the law back to pre- Victorian times.
The reform mean that for the majority of health and safety rules employees will no longer be able to rely on the fact that a statutory rule has been breached to claim compensation. They now have to prove that the employer was actually negligent
This is presented by the Government and employers as a fair and overdue reform and come out with the usual platitudes that health and safety has gone to far and that the Enterprise and Regulatory reform redresses this balance.
This is simply incorrect because it does not work out that way in practice. The main difficulty with bringing a claim against an employer is that the employer holds all the necessary information in terms of accident reports and other risk assessment documentation. Often it is difficult to get this without an application to Court. In addition often key witnesses are still working for the employer so will be reluctant to give evidence in case they lose their job.
That was the reason why the rules before this change were in place- to make sure that an injured employee was not dependent on the employer and could rely in statutes to impose strict liability against the employer. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform now being imposed changes all this.
And despite what the Government and employers say this was a key reason why safety at work was gradually improving- employer’s and their insurer’s pockets were being hit by claims against them so they had to improved their safety record.
This change in the law will mean that employers can go to their bad old ways knowing that proving a claim against them will be more difficult. Although this is presented as increasing efficiency and enterprise how long will it take before their are further deaths and serious injury before the rules are reinstated and a level playing field returned?
If you have had an accident at work you will now more than ever need to specialist advice of a Solicitor to make sure you can prove your case and get proper and rightful compensation for injury.