Just a reminder – two repeals effected by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 came into force at the beginning this month. These are:

  • – The removal of the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 relating to employers’ liability for third party harassment: and
  • – Changes to civil liability for employers who breach health and safety law.

In a bit more detail, removal of liability for third party harassment will take the situation back to where it stood prior to the Equality Act, under Pearce v Governing Body of Mayfield School; Macdonald v Advocate General for Scotland [2003] ICR 937 whereby an employer can only be held liable for harassment of one of its employees by a third party (such as a customer, service user or client) if the reason for the failure to prevent harassment was itself discriminatory. The government felt that the mischief addressed by the Equality Act 2010 did not require a cure, but that if that were wrong, employees could use other avenues, such as a general personal injury claim, constructive dismissal or under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

An amendment to section 47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act will mean that in future, employees (other than employees who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or are breastfeeding) will not be able to bring a civil claim for damages based purely on a breach of statutory duty – they will have to show there has been negligence on the part of the employer.