Employment Update: Employer Liability

28 April 2008

On 6 April 2008, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force. This creates a new criminal offence committed by an organisation if someone’s death is caused by that organisation being in gross breach of a relevant duty of care (which includes a duty to its employees) in the way in which it manages or organises its activities. Previously employers could only be liable to criminal prosecution for corporate manslaughter in the workplace if it could be shown that an individual who could be regarded as the ‘controlling mind’ of the organisation had been criminally negligent. The new offence only applies to organisations, not individuals within them, and will be punishable by a fine or (under regulations that have yet to be made) by a publicity order giving details of the circumstances.