By Jonathan London on 1st July 2015

New health and safety law exemptions for freelancers move closer

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has moved a step closer to the introduction of new health and safety laws that aim to reduce the regulatory burden placed on the self-employed.

Draft regulations published by the regulator this week include provisions to exempt self-employed individuals whose work does not expose others to risks from general health and safety requirements.

If the legal change goes ahead as planned, all self-employed people that do not employ others will no longer be included in the remit of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, unless their work falls within certain categories prescribed in the regulations.

According to an explanatory note published by the HSE, this reduction in red tape could save freelancers across the UK around £4.7 million over the next ten years.

It would also bring the country in line with most other nations, where health and safety legislation is only applied to those businesses that engage in activities considered to be particularly hazardous or that carry a risk of injury to others.

This follows an independent review of health and safety law by risk management specialist Professor Ragnar Lofstedt back in 2011, which recommended that the proposed exemptions may be necessary.

However, when commenting on the implications of the legal change, Kevin Bridges of law firm Pinsent Masons suggested there is still a possibility that the introduction of the legal change may not have the desired effect.

He  explained: “There remain concerns that change was unnecessary in the first place. It was generally accepted that the burden on the self-employed whose activities are genuinely of no risk to others was light.

“Extremes are of course easy to predict – the difficulties lie in the middle ‘grey’ area. The potential for confusion, additional costs and more bureaucracy, when a reduction is the aim, arguably remains.”

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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