It is a common misconception, and something we hear often from those who have suffered a serious accident at work – “won’t I lose my job if I claim against my employer?”.
In this article, we will outline a number of key reasons why it is extremely unlikely your job would be at risk if you make a claim.
Reason 1: Your employer is insured for such an eventuality
Employers by law are required to have sufficient levels of employers’ liability insurance, which specifically protects from the cost of paying compensation if their negligence leads to your injury, or illness. In reality, during a claim, it is the insurer who we will deal with, and hence there is often little involvement by the employer, except to provide the necessary information and evidence requested. By not being insured, your employer can accumulate a large fine (£2,500 per day). Insurance will provide the employer with a minimum cover of £5m, so even the most expensive compensation pay-outs can be accommodated.
Reason 2: Your employer has a legal duty to ensure your safety at work
By employing you and then placing you into risky situations, your employer would have breached their legal obligations to ensure your health and safety. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (the Act) was written with a view to “securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work ”, and in practice requires employers to ensure (as taken from section 2(2) of the Act):
- the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;
- arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;
- the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;
- so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;
- the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.
In short, your employer must ensure that the work environment and machinery is safe, and you have the necessary training/instruction and protective equipment. It is only if they have breached their legal obligations to you (i.e. been negligent) that you can bring a claim. It would be unfair and unjust if you were to suffer significant financial and health implications due to the errors of your employer; claiming compensation is the primary legal mechanism to remedy this.
Reason 3: It would constitute unfair or constructive dismissal
Unfair dismissal occurs when an employee is dismissed without good reason. Constructive dismissal is slightly different from unfair dismissal in that you are forced to leave your position due to the poor behaviour of your employer (e.g. placing you into a lower position, not paying your salary in full, harassment, or treating you unfairly). By following such a course of action, not only would your employer face claims of negligence relating to the accident which caused your injury, they would face a second claim (with potentially more compensation being due) for unfair or constructive dismissal; a situation no employer would wish to face.
It is important to remember, seeking compensation is solely to put you back into the position you would have been if the accident had not occurred. You are not seeking to gain an unfair advantage; you are merely seeking to put your life back on track, which due to the failings of your employer, was derailed. Many who are injured at work require funds for further medical treatment, long-term rehabilitation, counselling, equipment to assist their mobility, and changes to the home, in addition to funding the costs associated with their stay in hospital (hotel, transport, and parking costs for your immediate family), none of which you should need to pay for. So, when weighing up the possibility of losing your job versus what you have to gain by claiming for workplace accident compensation, remember, it is naturally expected you will bring a claim for your losses, and this should come at the cost of losing your job.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have suffered a workplace injury and would like a free claim assessment, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.