If you have an accident at work you may be worried that you could be dismissed. If the accident is severe and has an impact on your ability to carry out the job you used to do, these concerns may be more pronounced.
There is a great deal of confusion around workplace accidents. Many people fear being dismissed, particularly if they seek legal and financial redress following an accident for which they believe the employer was liable.
What are the rules regarding accidents at work, are employers entitled to dismiss you, and what impact might making a compensation claim have on your ongoing employment?
On what grounds can I be sacked after an accident at work?
Legally, you cannot be dismissed following an accident at work that left you injured. If you sustained this accident due to negligence caused by your employer, you might be considering making a claim for personal injury. You may also be worried that if you do pursue a claim that you might face dismissal.
The only potential grounds for dismissal following an accident might be because of capability. This is assessed by reference to skill, health, aptitude and any other physical or mental quality. If, for instance, your job involved heavy lifting and you can no longer lift, then you may be deemed no longer capable of continuing with your job. This is by no means clear-cut and it can be difficult for employers to prove this. As a result, most employers may try to redeploy you elsewhere or negotiate a mutually agreed contract termination.
If you are not able to continue working and your employer was liable for the accident that caused your injury any compensation payout will take account of these lost earnings.
If you are able to continue working, perhaps after a period of recuperation and sick leave, then your employer will have no ground to dismiss you legally.
What should I do following an accident?
If you’re injured at work it’s important that you report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Most businesses will have an accident book and the details of your accident should be recorded. This provides protection for both employer and employee and may be referred to should you decide to proceed with a compensation claim.
It’s also a good idea at this early stage to take photographs of your injury and the accident scene. You should write down your own account of what happened while it is fresh in your mind and ask any witnesses to the accident to do the same. If you can, make drawings of what happened to illustrate your notes.
You should make an appointment to see a doctor and any other relevant medical specialist as soon as you can.
If you feel that employer negligence led to the accident then you may be able to make a compensation claim. Any claim needs to be made within three years of the date of the accident and you will usually require the help of a lawyer.
Even if you are only exploring the possibility of making a claim it can be helpful to approach an experienced accident claims specialist. They will be able to advise about the strength of your claim and the potential compensation should your claim be successful. You will then be in a stronger position to decide whether or not to proceed.
Can I be sacked for making a compensation claim?
The law on compensation claims is clear. You cannot be sacked for making a claim. In many cases, if you work for a company with a large HR department your immediate manager is unlikely to know that a claim is being made. If you work for a smaller company they may well be aware that a claim is being made, but this should not be held against you. In such instances, it’s imperative on both sides of the dispute to ensure that a good working relationship is maintained throughout.
Employers are required by law to have insurance in place, so any claim will not leave them personally or the business out of pocket. If an accident has happened it’s imperative upon the employer to ensure that it’s appropriately dealt with to minimise the risk of it happening again.
As well as secure ongoing employment, you also have the right to be placed on lighter duties until you have fully recovered.
What if my claim causes bad relations with my employer?
As discussed above, the majority of responsible employers will accept that a valid claim is something to be handled carefully, rather than taking it personally. In larger companies, there will usually be a well-worked out procedure for handling claims, and your own claim will be treated accordingly.
In some smaller businesses, relationships can suffer as a result of a claim being made. If this results in the employee becoming harassed or unfairly treated, you may feel you have little choice but to resign. If you have in effect been forced out by your employer then you may have a case for constructive dismissal. If you wish to make a constructive dismissal claim, then this will need to be made within three months of resigning.
Don’t hesitate. Get advice.
The experienced team of compensation claim specialists at Mark Reynolds can give you advice, assess your claim and help you through the entire process. Call 0800 002 9577 or contact us online to get things started.