Corporate manslaughter law still causing headaches for HR

Getting to grips with the new corporate manslaughter law is still causing headaches for HR practitioners – just weeks before its introduction.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, which comes into effect on 6 April, will make organisations answerable for the actions or omissions of any senior manager if a death occurs.

Anyone who plays a significant role in decision-making or managing a large chunk of the organ­isation’s activities could make their company responsible for their actions under the Act for corporate killing.

Previously only one individual, identified by the company, could cause the company to be guilty of gross negligence or manslaughter. But Gillian Hibberd, HR director at Buckinghamshire County Council, told Employers’ Law: “It’s causing headaches among HR colleagues and we all need to be preparing now for its introduction.

“The whole issue of liability in corporate manslaughter cases has been ‘cloudy’, to say the least, over recent years. At least the new Act brings clarity, even if it does add to the increasing burden of legislation that employers now have to contend with.”

Hibberd is busy reviewing related policies and setting up specialist training for anyone deemed a senior manager at the council, in preparation for the Act. “For those organisations that take a systematic approach to risk management and health and safety [the Act] should be nothing to fear,” she said.

Richard Neville, head of employee relations at utilities firm Yorkshire Water, said health and safety procedures were already in place, such as checking the road-worthiness of all company vehicles.

But, he added: “Employees who use their own vehicles on company business present more difficulty in respect of these checks, so we are reviewing where we need to tighten up.”

Practical legal advice preparing for the Act

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