Employer’s liability insurance

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  • Employer's liability is a legal requirement if you employ staff who aren't direct family members
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What is employer’s liability insurance?

Employer' liability cover is a type of business insurance which protects you against the cost of compensation claims due to employee illness or injury because of their work for you.

It’s a legal requirement if your business employs one or more people, and you could be fined £2,500 for each day you’re not covered.

Insuring temporary workers

Even if you employ short-term, volunteer, work experience, part-time staff, casual workers or contractors, you will usually be required to have employer’s liability insurance.

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Who needs employers’ liability insurance?

You’ll need employer’s liability cover for your employees if:

  • You deduct National Insurance contributions and income tax from their wages
  • You provide most of the equipment and materials
  • You control when, where, and how your employees can work
  • You have the right to claim any profit made by your employees
  • You need them to perform the job you employ them for, and if the employee is unable to work they can’t find a substitute

Is employers' liability insurance a legal requirement?

Yes. But if you’re running an unincorporated family business, then you don’t legally need to have employer’s liability cover.

That's because you, as the business owner, are personally responsible and liable for what your company does and for any family members you might employ.

What does employer's liability insurance cover?

Policy details can vary between different insurers, but an employer's liability insurance policy should cover compensation costs if an employee becomes injured or ill due to their work, including:

  • Medical fees
  • Legal costs
  • Loss of income
  • Any other damages

Claims from former employees

Some illnesses take a while for symptoms to develop, so it’s possible that a former employee might claim compensation, even if it’s been a long time since they worked for you.

Employer’s liability insurance can cover this, but you’d need to check your policy or ask the insurer to make sure.

Who is usually exempt from employer's liability insurance?

You don’t need employer's liability cover if one person, or an equal partnership, works at the company. That’ll be the case when:

  • A director sets up a limited company but remains the only employee
  • The sole employee owns more than 50% of the share capital
  • The company isn’t limited but employs one sole trader who’s the principal of the business
  • Partnerships where the directors are equal partners in the business and do not employ others

Many public organisations, health services, and government bodies and companies which employ direct family members also won’t need employer's liability insurance.

How much employer's liability cover is needed?

You should have at least £5 million in cover, but many businesses will need £10 million or more

How to reduce your claim risk

Even though you'll have insurance, no one wants to be making claims unnecessarily. Take some steps as a good employer to protect yourself:

  1. Make sure you have good health and safety practices to reduce the chance of accidents and illness.

  2. Know your industry’s regulations and carry out regular risk assessments to address any issues.

  3. Check your employees feel safe and happy – they’ll be more productive and it’s good to know your staff enjoy coming to work.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, your employer’s liability certificates must be displayed in a prominent position and be available for inspectors to see. You can be fined £1,000 if not.

This depends on how many employees you have, what type of business you do and the cost of any wages you pay.

This depends on which insurer you choose – when you get quotes, make sure you’re as accurate as possible when telling your insurer how many employees need cover.

The difference is where the claim comes from. If a claim is made against you by someone outside your business, you’ll need public liability cover.

For claims from within your company, you’ll need employer’s liability insurance.

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were over 65,000 employee non-fatal injuries reported by employers in 2019/20.

The most common causes of injuries at work includes slips, trips, and falls.

Business insurance guides

Last reviewed: 14th September 2023

Reviewed by Holly Thomas

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