Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work?

Being injured at work can be frightening, humiliating and painful. The last thing you need to deal with is the threat of being sacked because of it when it wasn’t your fault. As an employee, you may be worried that your contract will be terminated after an accident in the workplace that wasn’t your fault. You might even be considering not saying anything about your injuries out of fear. If you are asking the question ‘can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’ this article can help.

can I be sacked for having an accident at work?

Can I be sacked for having an accident at work? guide

We explain the law around an injury at work and how you could claim for unfair dismissal if your boss tries to sack you after an accident that was not your fault. You can reach out to our advisors if you’d like free legal advice on your options. Simply:

Select A Section

  1. Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work?
  2. Dismissal And Employment Status
  3. Was I Fairly Or Unfairly Dismissed?
  4. Employee Rights
  5. Types Of Accidents In The Workplace
  6. Accident At Work Compensation Calculator
  7. Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work? Check With A Solicitor
  8. Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work?: Where To Read More

Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work?

All workplaces have to comply with legislation to be as safe for employees as reasonably possible. These expectations are outlined in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. If your employer fails to conduct regular risk assessments or doesn’t do what they reasonably can to safeguard you at work and you are harmed as a result, they could be liable for your injuries.

Employees also have a legal requirement to do all they reasonably can to be safe at work. Despite this, statistics show that accidents can still be common in the workplace. If you were injured because of a failure in training, or because of poor machinery you were asked to use despite your employer’s knowledge of its faults, or subpar operational standards, you could pursue a claim for damages without fear of losing your job over it.

Proof that your employer sacked you because of your claim (even though it was honest) could be grounds for separate action for compensation under an unfair dismissal claim.

If you have any queries, why not contact our advisors? They’re available 24/7 and give free legal advice.

Dismissal And Employment Status

Every employee is entitled to a written statement of the main terms of employment from their employer, but many provide a contract of employment. If you work under an employment contract, you’re seen as an employee.

In addition to outlining their duties, the contract usually describes what the employee can expect from the employer with regards to rates of pay, holiday, sickness and pensions. It may also outline terms of dismissal.

However, an employer can’t dismiss you for making an honest claim against them.

You could have grounds to make a compensation claim if:

  • There is a duty of care in place
  • That duty of care was breached
  • You suffered injuries as a consequence

Contracts vary for full-time staff, contract workers and agency staff. However, regardless of which type of employment contract you have, you can’t be sacked for having an accident at work if it wasn’t your fault.

Also, you need to be sure that the injuries were not the result of some activity that you shouldn’t have been doing. Under such circumstances, your employer may not be responsible for your injuries. Furthermore, in cases of gross misconduct, you may be liable for dismissal and have no valid claim for unfair dismissal.

Was I Fairly Or Unfairly Dismissed?

Each scenario around cases such as this can differ. Some people are quite rightly disciplined if it is clear that they breached the terms of their contract of employment to a serious enough degree. Other workers may be suspended while the outcome of a tribunal is decided. Whatever the exact circumstances of your case, a claim for injury is separate.

If you can prove that you directly suffered an injury because of something your employer breached their duty of care, you could have grounds to make a compensation claim. This is separate from a claim of unfair or wrongful dismissal.

When you connect with legal representation, they can help explain whether losing your job was a correct and legally fair procedure or not.

Employee Rights

It’s important to check that your dismissal was a fair and legitimate action on the part of your employer. You can confirm your employment status by using your contract. Unfortunately, not everyone has the right to contest an unfair dismissal decision. For example, you wouldn’t be able to challenge a dismissal if you are

  • A self-employed person
  • An agency worker or classed as a ‘worker’
  • A police officer or a member of the armed forces
  • A registered dock worker
  • Anyone working overseas or for a foreign government
  • A share fisherperson

Therefore, it’s important to:

  • Refer to your contract
  • Ensure appropriate procedure was followed
  • Confirm that you have been an employee for that employer for longer than two years (you can usually only dispute a dismissal if you’ve worked there for 2 years or more)
  • Check that you have actually been officially dismissed: How was it enacted? Were you made redundant, for example?
  • Do you have proof of an official termination letter?
  • Confirm that the reason for dismissal actually constitutes ‘unfair’ as far as the law defines it. This would include any ‘automatically unfair’ reasons, as recognised below.

Automatically Unfair Reasons for Dismissal

If your employer dismissed you on any of the following grounds, it could be deemed automatically unfair:

  • You are pregnant or were on maternity leave
  • You requested your legal rights
  • Took action regarding a health and safety issue
  • Are a trade union member
  • Took part in lawful, official industrial action for 12 weeks or under
  • Are a ‘whistleblower’ (someone who reports wrongdoing)
  • Made a flexible working request
  • Want to take maternity, paternity or other family leave
  • Have jury service to do
  • Were forced to retire

Importantly, your employer may still have valid grounds to dismiss you if you’re in any of these categories; however, it should not be the sole or explicit reason that you are dismissed.

What’s more, you shouldn’t be sacked for having an accident at work that wasn’t your fault. So if you believe that was in combination with any of the above when the decision for sacking you was made, the decision might not have been correct.

Discrimination

You can also challenge the grounds of your dismissal if you have evidence your employer has discriminated against you. Discrimination can take various forms. It may be made in reference to:

  • Your race, ethnicity or country of origin
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Your gender
  • Disabilities
  • Your sexual orientation
  • Religious beliefs
  • Your age
  • Pregnancy or maternity leave
  • Gender reassignment

Again, your employer can still dismiss you, but it can’t be the reason you’re dismissed.

Types Of Accidents In The Workplace

Being injured in the workplace can be alarmingly easy if health and safety observance is missing or impaired. Health and safety laws are crucial for the wellbeing of everyone and the consequences of not applying them can be fatal. There are some common examples of possible injuries such as:

  • Slipping on a wet, unattended surface
  • Tripping down badly marked or poorly lit stairs
  • Contact with heavy objects
  • Malfunctioning machinery
  • Lack of personal protective equipment where its necessary
  • Workplace violence

Using evidence such as the accident log book at work and the RIDDOR system of reporting injuries, you could begin to build a case today. However, you’d also need to prove that your employer caused your injuries.

Accident At Work Compensation Calculator

A personal injury solicitor would approach your claim in the following way:

  • Firstly, they can arrange for you to attend a medical assessment with an independent GP or specialist.
  • The resulting report can be used as evidence in your claim.
  • A lawyer can also use the report and a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to value your injuries.

The JCG is a publication that legal professionals use to help them value injuries. We used figures from these guidelines in our compensation table below.

InjuryseverityJCG award bracketnotes
Psychiatric damage(d) Less severeUp to £5,500This award takes into account how long the disability lasted and the extent to which everyday activities and sleep were impacted.
Ankle fracture(c) Moderate£12,900 to £24,950Fractures and ligament tears that can give rise to permanent disability.
Partial Hearing Loss or/and Tinnitus(I) Severe tinnitus/NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss)£27,890 to £42,730Severe NIHL and tinnitus
Chest injuries(e)£5,000 to £11,820Toxic fume inhalation with residual damage

It’s important to note that these amounts are not guaranteed. They merely represent what would be possible if your medical evidence supports it.

Special damages

General damages compensate you for the injuries you’ve suffered due to the accident that wasn’t your fault. You could also claim special damages, which compensates you for financial losses caused by your injuries.

You can use documents such as receipts, statements and bills that prove out-of-pocket costs caused by your injuries. These costs may include:

  • The costs of needing care
  • Missed wages
  • Childcare costs
  • Missed bonuses or pension contributions
  • Travel expenses to hospital or work
  • Medical equipment

If you can’t see your injuries in the compensation table above, why not get in touch? Our advisors can value your claim for free.

Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work? Check With A Solicitor

A No Win No Fee solicitor could help you access legal representation at no upfront cost for their work. They could defend your claim and ask only a small percentage at the conclusion of cases that win. If your case fails, there are no solicitor fees to pay at all.

Why not get in touch by?:

  • Calling Public Interest Lawyers on 0800 408 7825
  • Contact us via our website
  • Use the ‘live support’ option to the bottom of this screen

Can I be sacked for having an accident at work?: Where To Read More

Thank you for reading this guide. In conclusion, we can offer further help with the following guides about:

Reporting workplace accidents

Injuries that take place in public

Car accidents that were not your fault

There are also external sources that could be of use to you:

Health and safety at work statistics

NHS: How do you know if you’ve broken a bone?

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) news

We also have some other guides you may find useful:

Thank you for reading our guide answering the question, ‘can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’

Article by EA

Publisher UI