It might not have the headline grabbing qualities of a tax cut but tucked away within the Budget Report issued last week by the Chancellor was a firm commitment by the Government to introduce legislation in 2012 “so that ‘strict liability’ provisions in health and safety law will no longer hold employers to be in breach of their duties when they have done everything that is reasonably practicable and foreseeable to protect their employees”.
The idea of removing strict liability (the mere occurrence of an accident means the employer is liable despite maintenance systems or precautions) was first raised by the Löfstedt Report in November last year.
The Chancellor says this is a measure designed to reduce costs and barriers to business. It will represent one of the most significant changes to employer’s’ liability legislation since the 1990s and in my view, it should restore fairness to a legal system which has failed to discriminate between conscientious and irresponsible employers.
On March 27, 2012