Volunteers are the life and blood of many charitable organisations, but are you looking after them as you should be – and could you be leaving your charity exposed by not doing so?
Under the Employer’s Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, all employers are required by law to insure their liability towards employees, for injuries or illness which may arise from their employment, regardless of how many employees the organisation has – and charities are no different. Employers have a responsibility to make sure their workplace is a safe working environment; failure to do so could result in a claim being made against them and the employee seeking compensation.
However, there is a difference between employees and volunteers, so what cover is needed for them?
Employers’ liability covers the costs of the defence and compensation awarded for claims made against the organisation by employees for injury or illness arising from their employment.
A few examples of what these claims could look like are:
– Manual handling accidents
– Falls from height
– Accidents caused by defective work equipment
– Slips, trips or falls
Volunteers will often take on the same activities as employees, leaving them exposed to the same risks. There is a common misconception that, because people volunteer out of goodwill for the charity, they will never make a claim against the organisation. Yet, as there is no way to predict the outcome or significance of injuries, with some accidents and illnesses being life changing, some incidents in the workplace leave volunteers with no choice but to make a claim against the charity they were volunteering for.
So what cover do you need?
Unfortunately, there remains a grey area regarding whether a volunteer is covered by a charity’s public liability or employers’ liability, with some insurance companies favoring claims under one cover or the other. Make sure, when you arrange your policy, that you know where the safety and legal liability of your charity falls under your policy and that the correct cover is in place to protect your volunteers as well as your employees. After all, they support you – why cut corners and costs, when it comes to them?