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FHM writers slated for 'rape' posts - Here's how you can reduce your risk of being liable for your employee's wrongdoings

by , 18 July 2013
Social media was abuzz on Tuesday after two FHM writers made jokes about rape on Facebook. The men's magazine's features editor Max Barashenkov started it all when he posted 'I propose correctional rape and sterilisation for any white person who twerks'. The magazines' editorial assistant Montle Moorosi, then responded by saying 'I think rape can be quite fun if executed in a romantic manner'. The pair has since been suspended. While the comments were widely condemned as insensitive to victims of corrective rape, the matter has cast the spotlight on vicarious liability. Here's what you can protect yourself against the risk of vicarious liability.

You may be held liable for your employee's wrongdoings even though you weren't at fault.

'The mere fact that it was your employee acting in the course and scope of his employment makes you liable, even if you were on holiday in a different country at the time,' warns the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

While there's no foolproof way to protect yourself against the risk of vicarious liability, there are a number of actions you can take to reduce your risks.

Use these four ways to protect yourself against the risk of vicarious liability

#1: Take out insurance against this liability

You should include in your insurance policy cover against liability for the cost of damages resulting from all acts carried out by your employees and other parties, for instance independent contractors, under your control.

#2: Sue your employee after you have paid damages to the injured party

The courts have held that as an employer you can bring a civil claim against an employee after you have been found vicariously liable for the losses of a third party caused by the employee.

#3: Communicate your rules, codes and procedures clearly

Ensure your rules, codes and procedures dealing with conduct and safety in the workplace are fully comprehensive and clearly communicated to your employees in their contracts of employment and through other employee communications.

Let your employees know when policies change and make sure they know who to approach for more information about your policies, for instance, your human resources department.

You need to create rules and procedures that deal with issues such as sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, the use of company property, machinery and vehicles. Make it compulsory that all employees adhere strictly to all safety procedures and safeguards, including wearing protective clothing where applicable.

#4: Discipline your employees

Every time your employees break a rule they should be disciplined swiftly, fairly and firmly.

Putting these measures in place will help you reduce your risk of being liable for your employee's wrong doing.



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