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Written by
on 14 April 2015

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Self Employed? Then You Need to Know About This

The Deregulation billDid you know that the rates of accidents and fatalities amongst self-employed workers have been doubling over the years, while others were dropping down?

Well, self employed people might get another safety blow their way.

On 3 February, the Deregulation Bill got a hearty run through the House of Lords – and a whole lot of uproar as a result.

Now – just in case you don’t follow all the shenanigans of the House of Lords – here’s why.

Clause 1 of the Bill?

It’s all about deregulating some important parts of health and safety law.

Specifically – it would make some self-employed people exempt from health and safety law.

So what could this actually mean?

A licence to kill

To say that this proposed Bill has inspired some heated debate is an understatement.

The General Secretary of the TUC for example – calls it a “licence to kill”. She also calls it the “most dangerous piece of legislation” ever brought before the House of Lords.

Strong words! But what is the Deregulation Bill really about – and what does it mean?

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

It’s not all that often that governments like to actually simplify things.

Well, the Deregulation Bill (that’s the draft version) is supposed to do just that. Cut red tape for businesses, cut down costs and maximises efficiency and profits.

Sounds good, right?

Only one major problem. Health and safety is not just another “cost” that you can snip around the edges and tighten your purse strings on.

If the Deregulation Bill goes ahead, it could mean for the Self employed the end of the existing Health and Safety at Work Act and enforced safety regulations. It would also mean that perceived low risk businesses and self-employed people may be entirely exempt from any health and safety laws entirely.

While it’s meant to simplify and make things generally easier for businesses, it could in fact create greater confusion – not to mention leave self-employed workers and the general public at serious risk.

Worse than that – for the many bodies rallying against the proposed Bill, it represents giving a great big green light to “unscrupulous cowboys” and incompetent workers – to go ahead and take major risks with safety.

So that could end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

What would it mean for you?

If you’re self-employed, right now you’re expected to think about what risks you might be facing – and what level of precautions you need to keep yourself and other people around you safe from harm.

And if there’s really no risk – then you’re not expected to do much at all. Easy peasy.

But the proposed Bill wants to scrap that – and scrap any regulation at all on self employed workers. While that might sound fine and dandy, it means that there would be no legal framework to suggest how to keep safe while working, or what to do if someone actually was endangered.

It might mean less red tape – but it also means no inspectors, no safety guides, and nothing the police or courts can do, if and when something goes wrong.

Are you self-employed or work with self-employed contractors? What do you think the Bill could mean for you?

About 

Chartered health and safety consultant. 20+ years helping busy people in construction and the built environment. David provides how-to articles, advice and guidance to help explain and make compliance easier for clients. A solutionist with a brain you can pick. And you can easily get in touch with David on social media Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

Chartered health and safety consultant. 20+ years helping busy people in construction and the built environment. David provides how-to articles, advice and guidance to help explain and make compliance easier for clients. A solutionist with a brain you can pick. And you can easily get in touch with David on social media Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

One Comment
  • Thanks for saying it. The deregulation bill is a licence to kill others as well as yourself. Just think of all the people who will (not just could but will) be imacted on if the self-employed start stripping asbestos in schools without enclosures …
    We need to kill the bill – and the political philosophy that puts profits before people – before we return to Victorian workplaces, rather like any current failed third world economy.

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