Summary: Healthcare and insurance regulations differ across industry, and whether you’re running a small or large business, it’s important to understand where you stand and what your employees’ rights are.
If you’re planning on starting your own business, it’s important to understand what responsibilities you have towards your employees. As well as payment and training, you also need to think about employee health, and understand the laws governing healthcare and insurance within the workplace.
Because the UK has a National Health Service, regulations and laws surrounding employee health insurance aren’t as strict as they would be in a country like the USA. Most healthcare schemes are provided by employers as part of a staff benefit package, or through a union. That’s not to say that healthcare regulations are non-existent.
The most important one is the Employer’s Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, which states that all employers should have liability insurance as they’re wholly responsible for the wellbeing of their staff. If someone becomes injured while at work, or suffers an illness as a result of work, they’re entitled to seek compensation. Liability insurance safeguards employers.
It’s important to note that different industries have different regulations, all stemming from the same act. If you want to stay protected, it’s best to know what your legal responsibilities are.
The British retail sector employs roughly three million people, making it one of the UK’s top employers. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a legal duty to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their staff.
Whenever you employ a new member of staff, you’ll need to do some risk assessment to ensure that your employee is able to do their work without injuring themselves. Take everything into account, from whether your staff do any heavy lifting to how much time they spend at their desks, and how their workstations are set up.
Brewery workers face a lot of danger in the workplace, from accidental slips and trips to longer term illnesses derived from breathing in grain and wood dust. As well as investing in the essential liability insurance, employers again have to undertake some risk assessment and do their utmost to ensure that their employees are safe from harm.
Issuing breathing apparatuses and making them compulsory for staff who will be working in dusty areas, issuing staff with heavy duty clothing such as safety shoes, and ensuring that the building is kept clean and spill free at all times are general health and safety requirements.
Football and rugby players also face a lot of injury in their line of work. Although there are no specific rules governing the sector, it’s in the employer’s best interest to keep their staff fit as a fiddle. At the moment Bupa are the official partner of UK Sport and provide treatment to athletes who are feeling under the weather.
When you work for a large corporation, you’ll find that many employees travel a lot for work. They’re still protected under the company’s liability insurance, as well as whatever forms of insurance their organisation offers as part of the benefit package.
The employer has a duty of care to the staff member, so any mishaps that happen on a business trip will become the responsibility of the employer. Although it’s not a requirement, a lot of large businesses will take out a travel insurance package for their staff as this can save them money if the employee falls ill while travelling, or loses a vital piece of company property.
It’s a good idea for joiners, electricians, plumbers and other trade workers to take out small business health insurance.
The best policies cover employer liability, covering staff health and wellbeing, but it’s also possible to get policies which cover public liability. This means that if any of the work causes harm to a member of the public, it will cover the tradesperson when they claim compensation.
The level of health cover a teacher can expect to receive is largely based on who their employer is.
The Employer’s Liability Act doesn’t apply to the public sector, so if you work for a local authority it may be worth joining a union or looking into private healthcare from a dedicated provider. If you work for a private school or a privately funded college, your employer is responsible for any mishaps that might occur at your workplace.
Touring musicians attached to a record label can breathe easy. As long as they spend at least 14 continuous days in the UK each year, they will be covered under employer liability insurance. If they’re spending a few years out of the country, then there are organisations like the Musicians Union which insure musicians against illness and damage to their property.
Bars, clubs, and other venues where musicians play also have a duty to performers under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. This regulation aims to protect performers from hearing loss caused by loud music. Venues and employers are asked to assess the risk of the noise levels, and to issue musicians with earplugs.