RCN indemnity: your questions answered
Common queries about the way our scheme works
If your employer is refusing to provide cover for you, please contact us.
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 contact us for advice.
From 1 April 2019 all nursing staff working in GP practices or providing GP services to NHS patients in England are included in the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP), administered by NHS Resolution.
The scheme covers a range of NHS-funded GP services, including NHS walk-in centres and prison healthcare. It would cover self-employed members contracted to provide NHS-funded services (for example, as a locum practice nurse). As a result, the RCN indemnity scheme would not apply to your NHS-funded work; you already have cover under CNSGP.
If your business involves a mixture of NHS-funded and private work, the RCN scheme would apply to your private work subject to the terms and conditions explained in this document.
There is a comparable scheme in place in Wales called General Medical Practice Indemnity (GMPI), administered by NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership.
Professional indemnity for the provision of travel vaccines in General Practice settings is provided by the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP) in England or General Medical Practice Indemnity (GMPI) in Wales – except where the vaccinations are paid for by the patient.
The RCN indemnity scheme has been extended to cover both employed and self-employed members providing paid-for travel vaccinations in General Practice settings otherwise covered by the CNSGP/GMPI, subject to the terms and conditions outlined in this document. This extension of the scheme applies from 1 April 2019 for members in Wales and 1 August 2019 in England.
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.
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 your 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. Contact us if you need further help.
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.
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.
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.
How much does it cost?
More information about membership fees including monthly and annual costs.