Ruled Outcome Depends on Closeness of Violent Act to Employment
Great Britain’s Court of Appeal recently ruled that, where an employee inflicts violence on another employee or third party, the vicarious liability of the employer for the employee’s violent act will depend on the closeness of the violent act to the employee’s employment, according to labor union UNISON.
The Court of Appeal concluded that a broad view must be taken of the nature of an employee’s employment and what was reasonably incidental to the employee’s duties when considering his or her violent act.
Danger in Violent Reaction to Lawful Instruction
The Court of Appeal acknowledged that the possibility of friction is inherent in any employment relationship. The danger of a violent reaction to a lawful instruction is therefore a risk created by the employment. On this basis, a violent reaction may be connected to the employment rather than unrelated or independent of it.
Employer Could be Vicariously Liable
If an employee inflicts violence on a fellow employee or third party, where there is a sufficient connection between the violent act and the wrong doer’s employment, there is a real risk that the employer will be vicariously liable for the wrong doer’s violent act.
Should Take Active Steps to Reduce Risk of Violence
Safety reps should negotiate to ensure that their employer takes active steps to reduce the risk of violence in the workplace by reviewing their policies on this issue, ensuring that these policies are brought to the attention of all staff and, where there is violence, taking action in line with the disciplinary policy.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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