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New law targets ‘jobsworth culture’

New legislation designed to tackle an “’elf and safety and jobsworth culture” has taken its first steps towards becoming law.

The Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 12 June and is set to come into force early in 2015.

The Bill has been developed following concerns that people may be put off from taking part in voluntary activities or helping others or helping out in emergencies because they are worried about risk and liability.

The government said it also wanted to make sure that when people such as employers had been taking a responsible approach towards the safety of others during an activity, and something went wrong, the courts would take account of the circumstances.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said on 2 June that the Bill was designed to “slay much of the ‘elf and safety’ and jobsworth culture that holds back so much of our society.

“All too often people who are doing the right thing in our society feel constrained by the fear that they are the ones who will end up facing a lawsuit for negligence.

“Take the responsible employer who puts in place proper training for staff, who has sensible safety procedures, and tries to do the right thing. And then someone injures themselves doing something stupid or something that no reasonable person would ever have expected to be a risk. Common sense says that the law should not simply penalise the employer for what has gone wrong.”

The government said that the Bill would not give individuals “licence to take unnecessary risks with people’s safety or leave the injured party without a remedy when the defendant has failed to meet the appropriate standard of care.

“However, it will send a strong signal to reassure people that the courts will consider, in all cases, the wider context of the defendant’s actions before reaching a conclusion on liability.”