From tomorrow, many people who are injured at work will face an uphill struggle to claim the damages they need to help put their lives back on track.
Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, or ‘a charter for rogue bosses’ as it may come to be known, comes into force tomorrow (1 October).
The Act means the burden of proof following many injuries at work will be switched from the employer to the employee, which lawyers say is extremely unfair, as it tilts the playing field in favour of negligent bosses and away from injured workers.
“Many people injured through no fault of their own will find it extremely challenging to secure justice,” said Matthew Stockwell, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). “The effects are likely to be profound and the consequences will not just affect the employees, but society as a whole”.
Matthew explained: “The employer holds all the important information about any incident, such as maintenance records or previously reported dangers and risks. The injured employee will have to prove the case against his employer, which can be extremely difficult when he does not have access to this kind of information. Many people will inevitably shy away from making claims altogether. The negligent employer will then avoid making amends, leaving the state to pick up the tab for medical care and any benefits arising from the injury.”
Matthew added: “I am confident that good employers out there won’t take advantage of this. It is the rogue employers who concern me, as they will be more likely to cut corners knowing they may get away with it and it will be the injured person who ultimately pays the price.”