Employers Liability Tracing Office and ERNs

Why do we ask you to collect Employee Reference Numbers and why it is important to us…

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Why do we collect Employer Reference Numbers (ERNs)?

Every insurance provider that offers Employers’ Liability cover, collects ERNs. The reason why is simple: if an employee may have been hurt or may have contracted an illness during a previous period of employment, we want them to get the support they need quickly and efficiently. In the case of a claim, ERNs help individuals to trace previous insurers if they’re not sure which employers’ liability insurance policy might be relevant.

How do ERNs work?

When a query arises, response times may be important. Over a long period of time however, one person may have had many different jobs. And that can make it much harder to work out who could be responsible if an injury or illness seems to be related to historic employment.

An employee may not be in contact with an employer, or able to find the business, or the business may no longer be trading. The database of policy records makes it easier for employees to trace relevant insurers for their employers’, if this can’t be ascertained directly.

From 1st April 2012, the FCA implemented mandatory requirements: insurers must supply details of all insurance policies with Employers’ Liability cover to a database that can be searched by employees or their representatives.

The Employers’ Liability Tracing Office manages a database holding the details on all of those policies. It’s known as the Employers’ Liability Database (ELD), and we need your help – to help ensure the right people benefit, if an eligible claim needs to be made.

We submit details about each Employers’ Liability policy – including data on any insured subsidiary companies – within 90 days of the inception date of the policy, or from the date that Employers’ Liability cover is added to a policy. Those details must include the Employer Reference Number (ERN) for each business – and the ERN makes searches more accurate when a name won’t reveal successful matches.

  • ELTO explained this in more detail in their ELTO Broker Guide, which you can share with your customers. 
  • And here’s some information about the extent of searches and tracing in the latest ELTO Annual Report. 
But what is an ERN, exactly?

Employee Reference Numbers (ERNs) are shown on most correspondence from HMRC to employers, and on your customers' P45, P60 and P11/D documents.

An ERN is a unique number. It’s issued by HM Revenue and Customs to each employer, but they may know it as their ‘Employer PAYE Reference’. Since 2001, ERNs are found in this format:


3 numbers between 001 and 999 Forward slash character 1 or 2 alpha characters 1-6 numbers
ELTO and ERNs – where to find your customer’s ERN

Employee Reference Numbers (ERNs) are shown on most of the paperwork issued by HMRC to employers. It’s also likely to be on your customers' P45, P60 and P11/D documents, as well as in an Employer Payment Booklet (used by some employers to pay their HMRC PAYE bill at the bank or building society).

Sometimes the ERN can be confused with the Accounts Office Reference. However, an Accounts Office Reference has 13 or 17 characters in length – and the 4th character is always P e.g. 012/PA12345678.

Some businesses are exempt from having an ERN

Companies registered in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands don’t have an ERN, as they’re tax exempt.

Also, any companies paying all of their employees below the current PAYE threshold (as on the HMRC website www.hmrc.gov.uk) won’t have an ERN.

What you need to do

Whenever you’re handling Employers’ Liability cover – adding it to one of our policies at new business, mid-term or at renewal – send the ERN to us as soon as possible, along with the rest of your customer’s details.

You can send details of ERNs or Exemptions to us at commercial.uk@ageas.co.uk with the information and corresponding policy number.

You can send an email for each policy, or send multiple policy details on one email, as long as you have a clear policy number and the name of the business against an ERN. You can also email the details in an attachment (an .xls or .csv file).

For business placed online, you can fill the details in against the policy on the web or software house – whatever’s easiest for you.

Making the process easier

  • We won’t keep sending you automated reminders on individual policy ERNs if you have sent or populated that detail online
  • We will send reminders for completion at renewal of each case if the ERN is still incomplete
  • Whenever any changes are made to the policy, it’s a good idea to check that any ERNs you’ve previously sent to us are still valid.
  • Please make sure you’re sending ERNs, not Accounts Office References.
  • On the occasions that a company is exempt, please let us know.
  • Remember, if your customer is exempt from having an ERN, you’ll also need to let us know.

Terminology busting


The Employer’s Liability Database (ELD) holds the details of businesses that have or have had an employers’ liability insurance policy. It’s managed by ELTO. Claimants can search for their employer’s liability insurer via the ELD at: www.elto.org.uk.


ELTO is an independent body, set up to provide claimants and insurers with quick and easy online access to a database of Employers’ Liability policies – the Employers’ Liability Database (ELD).

Want more information?

If you’d like to find out more, these sites may be useful:





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