Your responsibility for people on church premises

05 June 2018

An overview of your responsibilities for looking after people who visit your church premises and ensuring that they are kept safe.

Person standing in a church looking at the stained glass windows

Do we need a Health and Safety policy?

Yes, you need an up-to-date Health and Safety policy to help fulfil your duty of care to your church members, volunteers and visitors. When setting up your policy you need to undertake regular risk assessments to assess the types of risks and the likelihood of them occurring.
  • Make sure you have an accident book
  • Health and Safety should be on the agenda at your PCC meetings
  • Update your policy and risk assessments regularly
  • Monitor your Health and Safety procedures to take account of changing circumstances.
This should be a continuing process but we recommend you go through a risk assessment and take any action necessary at least annually.

Volunteers working on your premises

There is cover for volunteers but you should take sensible precautions that they are not doing work of a hazardous or specialist nature.
A risk assessment should be carried out for all proposed work for volunteers. If at this stage the work appears too onerous or hazardous for a volunteer, you should seek professional expertise.

What about volunteers using their own vehicles on church business?

This cover is not included in the Parishguard policy. Volunteers need to ensure their own motor insurance covers them for this use; most motor insurers automatically include this.

Outside groups using your premises

The public liability section of your policy covers hirers for occasional private social events. This applies only where no other insurance cover is in force.
There is no automatic cover under the church policy for outside organisations; however, most groups have their own public liability cover and you should seek written confirmation from them that they have appropriate cover.

Should we ask outside users to confirm they have safeguarding procedures in place?

In the first instance, refer to your Diocesan guidelines and/or Diocesan Adviser. It is good practice to get written confirmation from groups working with children and/or vulnerable adults that they have a safeguarding policy and they undertake DBS checks.


Liability insurance protects an individual, volunteer or organisation if they are held legally liable for personal injury or damage to property. Your policy includes both employers’ and public liability cover.
This covers you if your PCC is legally liable to pay damages to an employee or volunteer who is injured whilst working on behalf of the church.
Much of the work undertaken at your church may be by volunteers; we regard them as employees for the purpose of insurance.
This covers you if your PCC is legally liable for injury to a member of the general public or damage to their property.
For example, if someone is injured whilst in your church or church hall, you may be held liable to pay damages to them, and any associated legal costs.
The PCC is responsible for fixing the limit; however, for public liability we recommend a minimum of £5million and for employers’ liability £10million.
Any organisation that works with children and/or vulnerable adults must have a Safeguarding policy and undertake Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks (previously CRB) on all eligible persons.
The PCC needs to ensure that it has adopted and applied the recommendations contained in the Church of England policies on Safeguarding. Your Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser will provide further guidance.
Your public liability cover will indemnify the PCC if it’s found to be legally liable for a bodily injury or illness to a person as result of abuse.
There would be no cover for the perpetrator of an incident of abuse. It is important that you operate within the guidelines of the Church of England; failure to do so may prejudice your insurance in the event of a claim.
Your legal expenses insurance provides cover for legal costs associated with defending criminal prosecutions.
DAS Legal Expenses Insurance manages these claims on our behalf and it is vitally important that they are notified immediately of any such incidents.