Markel launched a new UK employment practices liability (EPL) policy this week amid growing concern among employers about the increasing size of awards in employment disputes.

The new policy marks the first time Markel Internat-ional has written EPL business from London on a stand-alone basis.

The policy protects company directors and officers against a range of risks and includes cover for costs incurred as a result of official investigations and inquiries.

Markel said a range of factors had contributed to the rise in the number and value of cases brought by employees against their employers.

"[The increases] are due to growing legislation to protect employees, increased awareness of employment issues and rights, and the blaze of publicity surrounding successful claims," Markel said.

Shadow Secretary of State for Industry Stephen O'Brien said: "Businessmen deserve all the help they can get to face these challenges."