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RCN indemnity: your questions answered

Common queries about the way our scheme works

Here we address some common questions and misconceptions about the RCN indemnity scheme.

You'll find information for employees, agency workers and prescribers, along with guidance around obtaining confirmation of your RCN membership. Please also check the full terms and conditions of the scheme available here.

If you are employed, you should not need to arrange your own indemnity cover. Your employer has vicarious liability (in other words, is responsible) for your actions and omissions at work and should provide appropriate indemnity cover for you. It is not appropriate for your employer to try to shift that responsibility, either onto you as an employee or onto the RCN as your union. This applies whether you work for the NHS or a private employer.

If your employer is refusing to provide cover for you, please contact us on 0345 772 6100

There isn’t a specific policy number for RCN indemnity - like you would have for home or car insurance. Provided you satisfy our eligibility criteria, all you need is a letter from us confirming your RCN membership and a copy of our indemnity terms and conditions. The combination of these two documents will be sufficient for most purposes, including revalidation with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Visit your MyRCN page to view and download written confirmation of your membership.

Employment status is the key issue when assessing your eligibility for cover under the RCN scheme as an agency worker. If a contract of employment exists between you and any other party to the working relationship (i.e. the agency, the ‘end user’ (the setting where you are placed) or an umbrella company), then the RCN scheme will not apply.

Ultimately, the RCN will determine whether someone is an employee for the purposes of the indemnity scheme. We apply our own analysis based on expert employment law advice - as determined by case law - to clarify someone’s employment status. 

We consider a range of factors including:

  • any contractual documents you have been given; 
  • whether you’re obliged to accept work assignments from the relevant ‘employing’ organisation and, conversely, whether they’re obliged to offer work to you (known as mutuality of obligation);
  • the degree of control exercised by the ‘employing’ organisation;
  • permanency of the hours and place of work;
  • tax, insurance and corporate arrangements;
  • your ability to work elsewhere;
  • your holiday, sick leave and pay arrangements;
  • any disciplinary, grievance and other terms (as are usually found in ‘true’ contracts of employment);
  • substitution clauses (i.e. whether you’re able to arrange a substitute to cover for you when you’re unavailable); and
  • who supplied your equipment and uniform.

Also, the agency or end user may have indemnity in place for you. If you have indemnity through another provider/arrangement, the RCN scheme will not apply (i.e. the RCN does not provide double or ‘back up’ cover when other cover is already in place for you). For example, agency workers placed in NHS workplaces will be covered by NHS indemnity arrangements and so the RCN scheme will not apply to them.

So, it’s really important that you check your paperwork and seek clarification from the agency about your true employment status.

Only genuinely self-employed members will be covered by our scheme. If you’re still unsure, you can call RCN Direct for advice on 0345 772 6100.

If you’re an employee undertaking advanced nursing practice - including prescribing - then your employer has vicarious liability (or responsibility) for your actions and omissions at work. It is not appropriate for your employer to try to shift that responsibility, either onto you as an employee or onto the RCN as your union.

Whether you’re undertaking basic nursing activities or work independently in a specialist area, your employer should provide cover for you. You shouldn’t have to ‘top up’ the cover they already provide you, or get your own separate cover.

If your employer is refusing to provide cover specifically because you practice at an advanced level, please contact us on 0345 772 6100.

This is inaccurate. The key issue here is your employment status, rather than the fact you work in occupational health.

 In July 2014 we withdrew cover from members working under a contract of employment. This is because your employer has vicarious liability (in other words, is responsible) for your actions and omissions at work and should provide appropriate cover for you.

It is not appropriate for your employer to try to shift that responsibility, either onto you as an employee or onto the RCN as your union.

 Genuinely self-employed members working in occupational health will be covered by our scheme provided they meet the eligibility criteria.

The RCN scheme will cover student members wishing to undertake elective placements abroad, subject to the conditions and exclusions explained in our terms and conditions document.

Please note that the scheme will not cover you for any claim made in either the United States of America or Canada, irrespective of where the alleged negligence occurred. Also, student midwives will not be covered for providing intrapartum care (wherever in the world this takes place).

Visit your MyRCN page to download written confirmation of your membership and keep it for you records.

Tax ‘status’ and employment status are different issues. While it is true that self-employed persons make their own tax arrangements, this is not enough in itself to prove your status for employment law purposes.

How you are paid (including how tax on your earnings is paid) is just one factor to be considered when deciding your employment status. Why is this important? Because only genuinely self-employed members are covered by the RCN’s indemnity scheme.

Even if you make your own tax arrangements, you will be excluded from our scheme if a contract of employment exists between you and another party for the work you are undertaking. If you are unsure of your employment status, you should check your contract. Call us on 0345 772 6100 if you need further help.

There’s no need to pay anything extra. RCN indemnity is included in your membership fee, provided you meet the eligibility criteria.

The scheme will cover you for costs up to £3 million for any one claim. If you need more than £3 million worth of indemnity cover for your self-employed work, you will need to use another provider; we do not offer additional cover above this.

You must check the terms and conditions of the scheme to check you’re still eligible for cover in the new role. You only need to contact us if you’re unsure whether you’re covered.

That said, it is important for you to let us know when you change workplace so we can update your membership record. You can do this online at MyRCN.

Membership of the world’s largest nursing union means so much more than indemnity cover.You can still access a wide range of other services including workplace supportlearning resourcesprofessional forums and member discounts.

In particular, you can still access:

  • advice and support following employment difficulties (such as disciplinary proceedings, contractual disputes, dismissals, discrimination)
  • advice and representation before the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • resources and support with your professional development (including areas such as revalidation and support for health care assistants)
  • legal support with criminal proceedings arising in the course of employment
  • legal support if you have an accident – anywhere, at any time.
So, even if you don’t qualify for RCN indemnity, we’re still here for you.

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