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What you need to know about employers’ liability insurance

  • Blog
  • 27 January 2017

Employers’ liability insurance is just one of many types of business insurance, but essential cover for most UK companies. But what exactly is it, what does it cover, and who needs it?

This blog post explains the key things to know about employers’ liability cover and answer some of these questions.  

What you need to know about employers’ liability insurance

What is employers’ liability insurance?

This insurance is cover that protects your business and your staff should they become ill or injured while working for you. It protects your business against lawsuits that may develop as a result of an injury, like if one of your employees, past or present, makes a claim against you and your company.

Examples of incidents that employers’ liability insurance could cover, include:

  • A factory worker cutting their hand while using your company machinery
  • Your secretary suffering from repetitive strain injury from persistent computer work in your office
  • One of your employees falling off scaffolding while doing construction work, breaking their leg and needing time of work

Payments you’d have to make because of claims following such incidents can be very costly, going into the tens of thousands, which can be enough for a small business to have to close down. This insurance will help protect you and pay for compensation and any additional legal costs, allowing your business to keep operating.

Who needs employers’ liability cover?

Of all the types of business insurance, employers’ liability is one that is essential and legally required for most businesses in the UK. You’re breaking the law if your company employs one or more members of staff and you don’t have this insurance.

And this doesn’t just apply to your full time staff. Your part-time and temporary staff should be covered too. In general, you’ll need to cover staff who you pay to work for you per hour on agreed days, and deduct national insurance and income tax from the money you pay them.

The cover also applies to staff who previously worked for you. This is because some illnesses or injuries can take time to become apparent and develop.

Who doesn’t need the cover?

Although legally required, it’s important to point out that some companies are exempt from employers’ liability insurance. These are:

  • Family businesses – where employees are closely related to the company owner, such as a son or daughter, husband or wife. It doesn’t include family businesses which are incorporated as limited companies
  • Limited companies – where one person is employed who owns more than 50% of the share capital 
  • Sole traders – where the company is not limited and has only one employee who heads the business

How much cover do you need?

The UK act of parliament, the Employers’ Liability Act states a business must legally have insurance cover of at least £5 million. But it’s a good idea to look at your company risks and liabilities, like considering the cost of a member of staff taking you to court, to decide if your business needs more cover than this.

It’s worth knowing that most insurers provide employers’ liability cover of at least £10 million. They can also offer it as part of a package that includes other insurance, such as public liability or product liability.

The cost of your insurance can also depend on different factors, including the number of employees in your business and the size and type of company you run. 

What happens if I don’t have the right cover?

If your business doesn’t have employers’ liability insurance in place and legally should do, you can face fines of up to £2,500 per day.

It’s not enough to have the right cover too. Displaying your insurance certificate is also essential. You can be fined £1000 if you don’t display your insurance certificate so your employees can clearly see it, or have access to it and know when to find it. For example, this could be on a display board, in a company folder, or saved in a digital format on your company intranet.

How FSB can help with business insurance

Employers’ liability insurance is a key area of cover for many businesses, but just one of many that can help protect your company and its future development.

There is a lot to consider and think about. To help with this, FSB offers members expert insurance services to find you the most suitable polices for your business. This includes:

  • Offering business cover and claims advice
  • Finding you higher levels of insurance cover where possible
  • Providing free business insurance quotations, with no obligation

To find out more about how we can help find the best insurance cover for you and your company, speak to a member of our team or visit our FSB Insurance Service web page.

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