The government has begun consultation on plans to set up a central employers’ liability fund that would pay compensation to employees who develop a serious industrial disease and cannot find insurance elsewhere.
The consultation will run until May, and if agreed could lead to the creation of a special Employers’ Liability Bureau.
This would levy a small extra premium on top of existing employer liability insurance policies, which would then be paid into a central fund.
A worker who developed a serious work-related illness and where no insurer could be identified would be able to claim compensation from the bureau. At the moment, the worker would be left in limbo.
At the same time, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is investigating the possibility of setting up an Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELIB). The idea is that this would help people to track down their employer’s liability insurance policies and help to speed up compensation payments.
Construction union Ucatt, which has been pushing the idea of an ELIB since 2008, welcomed the announcement.
General secretary Alan Ritchie said: “Far too often workers develop life-threatening illnesses because employers have failed to provide adequate protection from harmful substances. If a worker’s health is ruined, they deserve compensation. By establishing an ELIB, the government will ensure this occurs.”
DWP minister Lord McKenzie said the bureau would act as a “fund of last resort”, while the tracing office would include an electronic database of employers’ liability insurance policies.
“Far too many people suffering from serious industrial diseases are unable to trace their insurance polices and get the compensation they deserve,” he added.