Employer's Duty of Care

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Health Assured team

19 March 2019

No matter what size your company is, all employers hold a legal duty of care for their staff members.

A duty of care can include anything, from managing grievances to providing PPE. The rules are outlined within employment law, and there’s a lot you need to comply with.

But if you neglect any, you could end up with more than a fine. In some cases, claims can be raised to tribunals, who have the power to bring your business grinding to a halt.

In this guide, we’ll look at what duty of care is, why it’s important, and how to apply it within your business.

What is an employer’s duty of care?

Under UK employment law, duty of care are protective commitments for anyone who comes into contact with your business.

Regardless of whether they’re employees or not–you must protect their health, safety, and welfare.

An employer’s 'duty of care' responsibilities revolves around eliminating physical, psychological, and economical risks in the workplace.

Do employers owe a duty of care to employees?

Yes, they do. Employer duty of care in UK law highlights compliance to all legal obligations.

A safe and healthy work environment will increase staff engagement and business productivity. And in return, employees will feel valued, respected, and cared for.

On the other hand, employer negligence for duty of care builds to reputational and financial consequences.

Examples of duty of care in the workplace

In the business realm, there are several areas where non-delegable duty of care by employers applies. For example:

Workplace environment

  • Provide a safe workspace for employees.
  • Identify and minimise risks and hazards.
  • Provide H&S training.
  • Use equipment and PPE correctly.

Employee welfare

  • Provide washroom facilities.
  • Have access to drinking water, clean air, and suitable temperature.
  • Assign appropriate workloads and environments.
  • Introduce health assessments.

Health & Safety policy

  • Introduce H&S policies.
  • Commit to laws and responsibilities.
  • Follow risk assessments.
  • Provide first aid services and aiders.
  • Outline grievance procedures.

Reporting incidents

  • Register to HSE or appropriate authorities.
  • Report dangerous activities, use of premises (to fire authorities), and storage facilities (to environmental health).


  • Take out employer’s liability insurance.
  • Cover personal injury, harm, or loss.

Employees also have a legal responsibility to ensure workplace health and safety. This includes following regulations, reporting risks, and taking reasonable care–for themselves and others.

How to apply duty of care in the workplace

Employers must do "whatever is reasonably practical" to showcase duty of care (civil law) and health & safety regulations (criminal law).

By doing so, they can demonstrate legal compliance–protecting employees and the business overall. Here are steps to achieve this:

Health & safety

Health & safety is considered as one of the most important obligations at work.

It only takes one accident (or near-miss accident) to raise a negligence claim. And these types of claims can be so severe, they can cripple your business financially.

Through open communication and H&S management, you can effectively reduce workplace accidents and negligence claims.

Mental health

Mental health illnesses can manifest in so many ways. And symptoms will vary depending on the individual and their conditions.

Employer duty of care for mental health conditions are outlined in the Health and Safety as Work Act (1992). The law requires you to ensure workplace practices don’t worsen their conditions.

For example, an employer's duty of care to employee stress includes providing health assessments. These identify and minimise workplace risks that affect people with psychological health conditions.

Reasonable adjustments

Under the Equality Act (2010), employees with disabilities–physical or mental–are legally entitled to reasonable adjustments.

Some examples include adjusting:

  • Job conditions (like hours, location, benefits).
  • Environment (like offering quiet areas or private workstations).
  • Workload (like reducing or changing tasks).

Changing these work conditions allow employees to perform at their best and keep up with peers.

Get expert advice on duty of care with Health Assured

It’s crucial to comply with all responsibilities involved with duty of care. It’s not only a legal obligation but also an ethical one.

Focusing on this allows you to build a safe and secure workplace. But neglecting your obligations can lead to legal claims and hefty penalties.

Health Assured offer expert advice on duty of care for employers. Our teams can help you safeguard employee wellbeing whilst simultaneously meeting your company’s needs.

We also provide a 24/7 helpline, that’s open 365 days a year–helping you care for your staff all year round. Arrange a call back from an expert today on  0800 206 2553.

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