Brokers seek to provide employers' liability cover for sole traders employing children

Biba is working with the Scottish Executive to ensure children on work experience are protected under employers' liability legislation.

The aim is to work with an insurer direct - the trade body is in talks with its supporting insurers - or to create a special scheme using a Biba broker.

Under new legislation, sole traders are no longer required to have employers' liability cover.

The problem was drawn to Biba's attention by the Scottish Executive, which was concerned that children - namely 15 and 16-year-olds - doing work experience, could have accidents while working for an uninsured individual.

It is understood there were cases of this, particularly in remote areas involving people working in the yarn industry who had taken on a child for work experience.

"We want sole traders to know they can either get cover by a top-up from an insurer or use a scheme product," said Peter Staddon, Biba's head of technical services.

"There are two issues here. First, a trader may already have a package policy in place for property. It needs to be clearly displayed if they have employers' liability. If not, this needs to be reactivated for a fair price.

"Alternatively, we want to be able to offer a competitively priced scheme through one of our members."

He said that in Scotland thousands of children work, typically for around one day a week during term time to ensure they are ready for the workplace.

He added that work experience was proven to have social benefits. "From our meetings with the Scottish Executive, we know it means less truancy, less anti-social behaviour and can also impact on issues like teenage pregnancy.

"It is wrong they should be denied the chance to work."

He added once the insurance arrangement has been formalised and piloted in Scotland - and this is expected by the end of the year - it is likely also to be rolled out across the UK.