Skip to main content

Employers' Liability Insurance

Volume 400: debated on Wednesday 26 February 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of businesses operating in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland without employers' liability cover; and if he will make a statement. [82828]

[holding answer 25 November 2002]: In England, Scotland and Wales the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces the legal requirement for companies to maintain Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) and to display a valid certificate. The HSE undertakes this enforcement activity during general inspections by HSE Inspectors and through the work of its Workplace Contact Officers who focus on small and medium-size enterprises.Workplace Contact Officers and Inspectors may ask to see a valid ELCI certificate during a visit. Where the certificate cannot be produced at the visit, HSE will write to the employer, and if no satisfactory response is received within a reasonable time that is 21 days under current instructions, will make a statutory request ('Notice to Produce') for its production. However, there may be circumstances where HSE considers it appropriate to issue a Notice to Produce straightaway where an employer fails to produce a valid certificate. Failure to produce a certificate will result in on-site inquires and prosecution, subject to evidence.A total of 4,366 contacts were made by Workplace Contact Officers between April and September 2002. Of these, just 14 (or 0.3 per cent.) merited the serving of a statutory notice to produce. In addition, HSE Inspectors carry a large number of issues during regulatory contacts, but because of the varying nature and range of visits undertaken, it is not possible to give exact figures as to how many of these regulatory contacts covered the issue of ELCI. However, during the same period of April to September 2002, HSE inspectors issued an additional 30 Notices to Produce. So the total number of Notices to Produce issued by HSE in this 6-month period was 44.Of those served notices, 31 employers (70 per cent.) have subsequently produced valid ELCI certificates. Inquiries relating to the 13 employers who have failed to produce ELCI certificates are continuing and may result in prosecution, subject to evidence.There were four prosecutions in 2002 resulting in penalties being imposed in three cases. Between 1997 and 2001, HSE successfully pursued 25 prosecutions for non-compliance.The above figures cover England, Scotland and Ireland. There is not available a breakdown for each area.In Northern Ireland a total of 1,924 visits to work places were made by HSE (Northern Ireland) Inspectors between April and September 2002. Inspectors routinely check on ELCI cover during visits although, as with HSE in England, Scotland and Wales, it is not possible to give exact figures as to how many of these visits covered the issue of ELCI. However, during the time period referred to above, no employers were detected by HSE (Northern Ireland) to be operating without ELCI.

HSE (Northern Ireland) records show one prosecution in recent years relating to ELCI in Northern Ireland. In December 2000, an employer was convicted for non-compliance.

These figures suggest that levels of compliance remain very high. However, the Government are aware of the recent problems being faced by employers in getting ELCI, and we announced in the Pre-Budget Report our intention I o undertake a formal review of the operation of ELCI.