Equestrian grooms are being warned to check whether those they are working for have liability insurance after a case where only £75,000 was paid out in compensation for a life-changing injury. H&H finds out more...
THE case of a groom who sustained a life-changing injury, but had to settle for £75,000 compensation, has sparked a call for all grooms to ensure their employers have liability insurance.
The cover is required by law, to protect both boss and staff in the case of an accident in the workplace. But in a recent legal case where the employer did not have it, the groom had to settle for the reduced amount.
British Grooms Association (BGA) executive director Lucy Katan said: “If the employer doesn’t have employers’ liability insurance and the employee has an accident, particularly if it was life-changing, the solicitor would be reliant on recovering damages directly from the employer.
“As the settlement would be taken from the employer’s personal funds, the amount could be significantly smaller than one resolved by an insurance company.
“This creates risk, to the employee of not having proper recourse to recover damages for an injury at work, and to the employer as they could be sued personally rather than being indemnified by an insurer. This is why employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement.”
Laura Upton, principal of insurance broker Brookhurst Risk Solutions, told H&H that any employer who does not have the liability cover is in breach of the Employers’ Liability Act.
“Employers’s liability insurance has standard cover of £10m, so there’s plenty to cover lifetime care if someone needs it after an accident,” she said. “If you have employees, you’re required by law not only to have the cover but to display the certificate on your premises, so grooms should be able to tell whether the employer has it or not.”
The BGA also urged grooms to be aware of their employment status. Previous BGA questionnaires have indicated that many of those who are told they are self-employed are in fact employed, by bosses who therefore need, but may not have, liability cover.
One groom, who did not want to be named, told H&H she was offered a high-risk riding job and told she would be self-employed, despite the fact she was told what her hours and pay would be.
“Speaking to the BGA about it has opened my eyes,” she said. “The yard was lovely, and the horses beautiful, but I could tell there was the risk factor. I asked about insurance and they said I’d be self-employed so it was down to me.
“I looked into it and the BGA said that wasn’t right. When I was 16, I never gave it a thought but now, if I got hurt badly, I wouldn’t be able to work or look after my own horses.
“I think the illusion of lovely horses distracts people, but if you fall off and break your neck, what happens then?”
Mrs Upton added that in the event of an accident, a court would look into whether a groom was employed or not.
“If they’re not and there’s a loss, and you should have had employers’ liability cover, you’ll get fined, and the groom could seek to sue you on your public liability cover,” she said.
A BGA spokesman added: “It is very easy to convince yourself that an accident won’t happen, but in a high-risk industry it is important to know that the financial support is there if you need it.
“Freelance grooms should also ensure that they have their own liability insurance to protect themselves in the event of an accident occurring when clients’ horses are in their care.”
H&H 8 October 2020
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