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Employers' Liability Tracing Office proposed to help workers claim compensation for work-related diseases

New Government proposals will allow thousands of employees with serious industrial diseases to claim compensation, even if they cannot trace their employers' insurance records.

In a consultation paper, the Department for Work and Pensions has set out plans to create an Employers' Liability Tracing Office to help people track down their employers' liability insurance policies, and an Employers' Liability Insurance Bureau to provide a fund of last resort for those who are unable to trace them.

The proposed tracing office will incorporate an electronic database of employers' liability insurance policies.

The consultation will examine what more employers can do to meet their obligations to maintain employers' liability compulsory insurance.

It will also consider how the tracing office could be best managed and funded as well as the scope of help that could be provided by an employers' liability insurance bureau, the timing of claims and how much compensation could be paid. 

Department for work and pensions minister Lord McKenzie said: "Far too many people suffering from serious industrial diseases are unable to trace their insurance polices and get the compensation they deserve.

"That is why we want to set up a better tracing service with a dedicated database to help them track down these policies, and a fund of last resort if all else fails.

"We will continue to work with insurance bodies, trade unions and campaign groups to ensure all those affected get the help they need."

Where a person is injured or made ill through their work as a result of the employer's negligence, they would normally claim civil damages from the employer.

However, a number of people have been unable to trace their employers' liability insurance policy and make a claim. This is because some industrial diseases only appear decades later when employers may have ceased trading or they may have not kept old insurance records or lost them.

A voluntary Code of Practice for tracing Employers' Liability insurance policies, set up in 1999, has led to some improvements, but many individuals are still left without help.