Our livery yard insurance experts often find that equestrian businesses believe that they do not require employers’ liability insurance because they’re using yard staff who are self-employed – this is not always the case.

It’s common practice for yards to use freelance grooms or similar as it gives them the flexibility of increasing and reducing hours as seasons and circumstances change. It’s essential to realise that the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 states that “the term “employee” means an individual who has entered into or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship with an employer whether by way of manual labour, clerical work or otherwise, whether such contract is expressed or implied, oral or in writing.”

This means that anyone who is working for your business under your direction, using your tools or equipment, would be considered an employee and therefore your business would be required to take out an employers’ liability insurance policy. This would include the self-employed, labour only, sub-contractors, volunteers and apprentices. The exception to this would be where the business is not a limited company and only ‘employs’ close family members or if the employee does not ordinarily reside in Great Britain.

A typical real life example our equestrian insurance team see would be a livery yard proprietor uses two freelance grooms to carry out duties that include mucking out and handling the livery horses. The livery yard tells the grooms what needs to be done and they use the mucking out tools supplied by the business. In this case the business would be required to have employers’ liability cover as the grooms are working under the direction of the business.

An alternative example would be a livery yard where a self-employed individual goes onto the yard to look after a set group of horses. They’re instructed and paid by the individual horse owners, not the livery yard. In this case, the self-employed person is not working for the business but for the private individuals, so employers’ liability would not be required by the business. The business should however ensure the freelance groom has their own relevant public liability insurance in place covering them for their grooming/ business activities. .

Failure to have the appropriate employers’ liability insurance in place could result in not only a criminal prosecution but also land you with a claim that you are personally liable for. Should one of your employees be injured or fall ill whilst working for your business then they could make a claim against you.

You may have seen recently in the Horse & Hound that a freelance groom was awarded £75,000 for a life changing injury. The business owner in this particular case will be personally liable to pay as they did not have employers’ liability cover. Most employers’ liability insurances will cover up to £10,000,000 and with a life changing injury it would be easy for a claim to reach the millions of pounds.

If you have taken out appropriate employers’ liability cover with an equestrian specialist insurer such as SEIB, then you know you will have the protection should a claim be made against you. Without this insurance the employee could pursue a claim against you personally which could put your personal assets and house in jeopardy.

About SEIB

SEIB have been arranging Horse Insurance, Livery Yard Insurance and Groom Insurance for over 50 years. If you would like to request a quote for your Livery Yard Insurance please click here. Most of our horse insurance team own and ride horses themselves and have a true understanding what makes a good livery yard and how much work goes into making one successful.