Having your contract ended by an employer is rarely a good feeling. However, in certain circumstances, employers have a legal right to do so. In others, such as after an accident at work that left you injured, a dismissal might not be lawful.
You can take legal action if you are sacked after an accident at work that wasn't your fault. You can make an unfair dismissal claim and you could be entitled to compensation. You must act within three months of being sacked.
This guide will look at what counts as unfair dismissal in the UK, what your rights when it comes to dismissals and what steps you can take if you feel you’ve been unfairly let go.
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Once you’ve worked with an employer for two years, you get extra protection under a piece of legislation called the Employment Rights Act 1998. Amongst other things, this sets out reasons that count as ‘fair dismissal’.
Under the Employment Rights Act 1998, a dismissal would be classed as fair in the following five scenarios:
You’ll notice that purely having an accident at work, or making a compensation claim as a result of a workplace injury, are not included on this list. Barring a few niche cases which we’ll look at a little later on, this means that being dismissed due to an injury at work is likely to be an unfair dismissal and something you can take legal action against if you want to.
Even if you’ve been with your employer for less than two years, they still need to have a good reason for letting you go and have followed all of the correct proceedings in doing so. If they don’t, the dismissal can be classed as unfair and, you have a right to take legal action.
There are also certain situations in which being dismissed is automatically deemed unfair, regardless of the case your employer tries to make against you. These reasons include:
But this doesn't help us too much in the case of being injured at work. So let's take a deeper dive into the rules surrounding being dismissed as a result of an injury at work.
Generally, no. Being injured at work is not listed in the five reasons an employer can fairly dismiss you. You also can't be dismissed solely for making a personal injury claim.
Now let's look at the cases in which you might be able to fairly dismissed after being injured at work. Put simply, this can happen in two cases - where the accident was down to misconduct on your part, or if you are injured to the extent, you can no longer do your job.
If it can be proved that the accident was due to your own misconduct, then you can be fairly dismissed by your employer. An example here might be if the accident was due to you taking actions that seriously compromised your health and safety and that of others around you. This would be a fair dismissal in the eyes of the law.
In the case that the injury was serious enough to leave you with a lasting illness, injury or disability, your employer should try to make 'reasonable adjustments' to accommodate you to allow you to return to work. It's only if they cannot do this, and they can prove that they have a reason for why not, that they can legally dismiss you as a last resort.
Here, it's good to be aware of the legal definition of disabled in this case. The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as "a physical or a mental condition which has a substantial and long-term negative impact on your ability to do normal daily activities". Under this piece of legislation, your employer cannot treat you differently or unfairly on the basis of disability.
By law, you can't be forced out of your role simply for being injured at work. So if you think your dismissal might've been unfair:
To make sure all matters are handled correctly and as professionally as possible, check that you followed the correct accident reporting procedures to the letter. This means:
Gather as much supporting evidence as you can. Try to get hold of any photographic or video evidence of your accident, the place it happened and the injuries you sustained. If anyone else witnessed the accident, try to get a witness statement from them - these can be very valuable in a personal injury claim.
If you feel you were unfairly dismissed, or are in the process of a dismissal, get as much evidence as you can in writing. Gather any email correspondence, meeting notes or even consider recording your phone calls to track the process and ensure it is all above board.
If you think you have a claim against your employer - either for the injury at work or for unfair dismissal afterwards, or both - then don’t delay. There are time limits in place for how long after an event you can make a claim to an employment tribunal (typically within three months of being dismissed for unfair dismissal claims) so seek legal advice as soon as you can.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Personal Injury Claims management companies. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation for injuries they have incurred, and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a compensation claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.
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