What is employers' liability insurance?
Employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement for most businesses in the UK with employees. It protects you against the cost of compensation claims in the event of an employee injury or work-related illness. Businesses without the right employers’ liability cover in place could risk receiving fines if legally required.
As an employer, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees while they are at work. If an employee suffers an injury or falls ill as a result of working for your business, you could be held liable.
There are several circumstances you might need liability cover for. The situation could be as simple as an injury caused by slipping on a wet floor, or an employee contracting an illness because of factors you were unaware of.
Of course, you do all you can to prevent accidents from happening. But, in the event they do, an employers’ liability policy helps your business to stay on track by covering the legal and compensation expenses arising from a claim.
Employers' liability – our guide
Do I need employers' liability insurance?
If your business is located in the UK and you employ one or more members of staff, you might need employers’ liability in place by law.
Under UK law (external link), your business could be fined up to £2,500 for each day it isn’t covered with the correct employers' liability insurance. This could apply to you (external link) as soon as you employ your first member of staff, whether they’re full-time, part-time or even a friend pitching in to help at the weekend.
Having a policy is a legal requirement (external link) for businesses in most circumstances, but there are a few exceptions. Businesses not legally obligated to have this cover include public organisations, health service bodies and small businesses that only employ close family members. It is important to note that this doesn’t include family businesses incorporated as limited companies.
Since 2011, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (external link) has stipulated that organisations must make their employers' liability policies searchable to current and former staff. To meet this requirement, some companies become members of the Employers' Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) by submitting all relevant gross written premium (GWP) information since March 2011, plus details about claims. Businesses may need to pay a membership levy to benefit from this service.
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What does employers' liability insurance do?
Accidents happen – even if you’ve offered training and followed all the health and safety protocols. While these might not be your fault, as an employer you may face the cost of settling and defending any claims.
Business owners can also face claims from people who have stopped working for you. Having an employers’ liability insurance policy protects your business against such situations.
Employers' liability ensures that if the case goes to court, you're covered for legal costs and any compensation you may have to pay, up to the policy limit.
Who does employers’ liability insurance cover?
Employers’ liability insurance covers your business for claims relating to people who work, or have worked, for you.
An employers’ liability policy can cover claims from*:
- Permanent employees
- Contracted employees
- Seasonal or temporary staff
- Voluntary staff
- Apprentices and students
- People on work experience
- Labour-only subcontractors.
*Note: this list is not definitive or exhaustive. Call us to get more information on your specific circumstances.
When should I get employers' liability insurance?
You might need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you take on your first member of staff – even if they are a volunteer or labour-only subcontractor. If you run a limited company and employ anyone, in any capacity, it may be a legal requirement for businesses of all sizes.
Even as a sole trader or freelance individual, you may need to hire staff to assist with workloads as your empire grows.
This could apply whether your employees are full-time, part-time or working on a temporary basis. Get a quote to protect your business and be reassured that you’re in expert hands.
How much employers' liability cover will I need?
How much employers’ liability cover you need will depend on how many employees you have, as well as the size and nature of your business. Working out how much cover you require also means understanding what you might be liable for – at Hiscox we’ll work with you to get to the bottom of this.
It’s not just employees and contractors you might need to consider, it's anyone working for you in any capacity – trainees, apprentices, even just a friend helping at the weekend. No matter whether you’re a small business owner or a sole trader, if you have people doing work for you and they become ill or injured because of it, you’d be liable.
The legal requirement for cover is £5 million but we offer to cover you up to £10 million to make sure your bottom line is protected.
What's included in your employers' liability cover?
An employers’ liability insurance policy includes cover for legal and compensation costs. Once you have your cover in place, you’ll be protected from claims made against you, up to £10 million, depending on the policy you put in place for your circumstances.
An employers’ liability policy will help to safeguard your business against unforeseen circumstances.
The policy provides cover to your business for:
Employee illness claims
Employers’ liability insurance can help if someone works for you and claims their job caused an illness.
Explore types of workplace illness with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (external link).
Employee injury claims
When employees are injured because of their work for you, employers’ liability insurance could help with legal defence and compensation costs.
This might apply if:
- Stock isn’t stored safely and a pile of boxes falls on to someone
- The right manual handling training isn’t given, and a staff member hurts their back
- Employees trip on uneven flooring in your office.
Long-term employee health claims
Some employee claims span a longer timeframe. Insurance could help if an employee starts to lose their hearing due to long-term exposure to noisy machinery, for example.
Claims from ex-employees
Since issues can take years to build, employers’ liability claims may appear further down the line. If an employee makes a claim after leaving the business, insurance could help. This applies if you were insured with us at the time of the alleged accident or exposure.
Claims from temporary staff
On the flipside, some problems can strike fast. If someone works for you for a day and gets injured leaving the building, they might try to claim. Employers’ liability cover can help protect your business against claims from permanent, temporary or casual staff.
Criminal action for breaching employment laws
Some disputes may relate to how you applied laws and regulations. If a staff member becomes ill or injured and a government or regulatory body starts criminal proceedings against your business, this cover may help with costs.
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What does employers’ liability insurance not cover?
Employers’ liability insurance from Hiscox doesn’t cover:
- Deliberate or reckless acts. This includes any act or omission you deliberately commit, condone or ignore.
- Injuries caused by a vehicle, where separate car or van insurance is compulsory. So, if one of your employees is involved in a collision while driving a work van in the UK, you’ll need to pursue claims through a separate policy.
- Injuries relating to offshore oil rig platforms – whether sustained on board an oil rig, or during travel to or from one.
Other exclusions may apply. For full details, see your policy wording documents or contact us by phone or email.
Employers' liability FAQs
What is the difference between public liability and employers’ liability?
The difference between these two fundamental business insurance policies is where the claim is coming from. If a claim is being brought against you by a person from outside your business, you’ll need to use public liability cover. Alternatively, if someone from inside your company is making a claim, you’ll use your employers’ liability insurance.
What are some real-life examples of Hiscox employers’ liability claims?
Before you take out a policy, it’s understandable to want to learn more about the realities of making a claim. That’s why we’ve collated real-life claims stories. One case involved a volunteer tripping and sustaining an injury which lasted over a year. Since our customer had the right employers’ liability policy in place to defend them against the claim and then pay out if required, both parties were covered.
Who is usually exempt from employers’ liability insurance?
You’ll usually be exempt from employers’ liability insurance requirements if:
- Your business has no (0) employees
- Your limited company employs only one person – yourself – and you also own more than half the firm’s share capital
- You’re a sole trader
- You run a family business. This means you employ only close relatives – such as your husband, wife, son or daughter. The family business exemption is not designed for limited companies.
To find out more about the rules and what they might mean for you, research can help. You could contact the Federation of Small Businesses (external link) (FSB) or Health and Safety Executive (external link) (HSE).
Is employers’ liability insurance tax deductible?
Yes, employers’ liability insurance is tax deductible.This is because it’s classed as an allowable expense (external link). If you keep records of the payment for your cover, you can list this as a deductible cost when you calculate your profits. This might mean you don’t need to pay so much corporation tax.
Keep in mind that, because this type of insurance can benefit employees, you’ll also need to report the costs (external link) at the end of each tax year.
Employers' liability articles and guides
Employers' liability articles and guides