Having an accident at work is far from ideal, but unfortunately, they sometimes happen. Where injuries have occurred, some employees feel like they can’t mention the scope of their pain or even that the accident happened for fear of being fired, even if the accident wasn’t their fault. Fortunately, there are laws in place in the UK that protect you against unfair dismissal, even in the case of an accident at work, but too few workers are aware of how the law works and how to go down the legal route should it be necessary.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know about accidents at work, how your employer should respond, what to do if they fire you unfairly, and how to seek compensation through an accident at work claim if you’re injured or make an unfair dismissal claim.
Can an employer sack you for having an accident at work?
In answer to the question ‘Can you be fired for an accident at work?’ In short, no. Your employer cannot fire you for having an accident at work that wasn’t your fault. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are legally bound to ensure you have a safe workspace. This means giving you the right personal protective equipment, training, and aids to assist you in safely performing your job. Risk assessments need to be carried out, and safeguarding measures should be implemented. They also have a duty to address any health and safety concerns raised by employees. If your employer falls short of any of these points and you have an accident as a result, they are legally liable through employer negligence.
As an employee, you also have a legal duty to do everything you can to avoid an accident. For example, if you need to lift something heavy and had the option to use a lifting aid but chose not to, and then went on to sustain an injury, this isn’t your employer’s fault because they did everything they reasonably could to keep you safe. Alternatively, you may have suffered an industrial disease injury or condition as a result of unsafe working conditions. In this case, you can legally be fired for gross misconduct. On the other hand, if your employer failed to provide you with a lifting aid and you sustained an injury, this would be their fault because they haven’t taken all the necessary steps to ensure your safety.
If you have an accident that wasn’t your fault, you could make a personal injury claim and seek to recover financial damages, and your employer cannot sack you if you do so. If you have proof that your employer sacked you over an accident that wasn’t your fault, you can launch an unfair dismissal case. This is separate to seeking damages, and both can be sought at the same time.
Fair vs unfair dismissal
The next step is to look at whether you were unfairly or fairly dismissed. In order to have a viable unfair dismissal claim, you need to be able to prove that:
- Your employer has a duty of care towards you
- Your employer breached their duty of care requirements
- You had an accident and incurred injuries as a result of the breach of duty of care
Without being able to prove the above, it’s hard to make a claim for compensation stand.
If it comes to light that your employer did in fact stand up to their duty of care and it was you who bypassed the safeguarding procedures that were in place, you can be fairly dismissed. As mentioned, you have a duty to keep yourself safe, too, and if you make a negligent decision that leads to an accident, your employer won’t be seen as liable for your injuries and is within their rights to fire you.
To determine whether a dismissal was fair or unfair, it’s a good idea to speak to witnesses, establish CCTV footage, and keep a personal diary of what happened.
Occasionally, accidents at work happen due to contributory negligence. This is a mixture of your employer breaching their duty of care, and you also being negligent. These cases are slightly more complex and it can make it hard to distinguish between fair and unfair dismissal. We can provide assistance with this, simply call us on 0800 526 368 and speak to one of our personal injury lawyers to find out more.
What to do if you’ve been fired for having an accident at work
Though illegal, some employers do fire employees for seeking damages as a result of having an accident at work. If this has happened to you, you’re likely wondering what the next steps are. This can be incredibly stressful, especially if you’ve sustained injuries and are already financially burdened as a result. With this in mind, here are some key things to consider and your next steps.
1. Check your employment contract
The first step in any dispute surrounding employment is to check your contract. Not everyone has a contract, but if you do, you’re an employee. This means your contract should have a section on dismissal. Legally, you cannot be dismissed from your job for making an honest claim against your employer, and you also cannot be dismissed if you have an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Generally speaking, however, fighting a dismissal case if you’ve worked for a company for less than two years can be tricky.
2. Find legal representation
If you have been dismissed by your employer for an accident, you need to seek legal advice. At OH Parsons, we have decades of experience in helping people who not only sustain personal injuries, but who have also been unfairly dismissed, get the compensation they are entitled to through a successful claim.
It’s best to seek professional legal advice because the legalities surrounding employment can be complex, and your employer will likely already have a legal team on-hand who have expert knowledge to take on cases like this. At OH Parsons, we can advise you on whether you might have a claim, as well as represent you in negotiations and court proceedings if necessary. Our lawyers are leaders in their field, meaning there’s no one better placed to provide legal advice if you’ve had a workplace accident than us.
3. Collect evidence
The next step is to collect evidence of your employer’s negligence, such as witness statements, official correspondence between you and your employer regarding the issue, and medical records that show the extent of your injuries. You will also want to document financial losses as these will be key in determining how much could be awarded if your compensation claim is successful. We can help you with this.
Make a personal injury claim with OH Parsons today
If you’ve been sacked as a result of an accident at work, contact our team today to find out more about if you have a case and how our no win no fee service could help you get the justice you deserve. We have worked extensively with people who have made successful personal injury claims due to an accident at work.
We’re experts in employment law and offer free legal advice through an initial consultation whereby we can listen to your side and determine if you can get personal injury compensation or make an unfair dismissal case. Get in touch with an OH Parsons personal injury solicitor today.