Sustaining an injury in the workplace

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Q. Last week I hurt my hand in work, I have been advised that my hand may never heal properly, I have never been off work sick before what should I do?

A. If you have an accident at work, you should report it to your employer as soon as possible – and make sure they record it in the accident book.

If they don’t do this, or if there isn’t an accident book, write down details of the accident and send it to your employer (keeping a copy for yourself). If you can’t report the accident because you’re too ill, ask someone else to do it for you.

You should see a doctor even if your injury doesn’t seem serious - the doctor can record the medical details of your accident. This will be useful later on if you want to claim compensation or if you need to claim benefits. 

If you think that conditions at your workplace are unsafe, talk to your trade union, if you are a member, or contact the Health and Safety Executive. If you think you’re in serious and immediate danger at work, you have the right to protect yourself. This could mean leaving work until the immediate danger is fixed.

Pay when you can’t work

You may get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £88.45 weekly, if you need time off because of your injury.

If you work (and aren’t self-employed), you’re legally entitled to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as long as you:

*have started work with your employer

*are sick for four full days or more in a row

*earn on average more than £112 per week (before tax)

*follow your employer’s rules for getting sick pay

You’re still entitled to SSP if you’re an agency or casual worker, if you work part-time or on a fixed-term contract.

If you’re on a zero hours contract, you can still get sick pay - you should ask your employer for it. If they say no, ask them to explain. If you are unhappy with their response please contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Your contract of employment might also say you can get contractual sick pay, so make sure you check this for additional entitlements.

If you are not entitled to SSP you might be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance.

There may be additional entitlements depending on the seriousness of your injury and/or your income. For example, you might get Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Personal Independence Payments or Working Tax Credit. Your local Citizens Advice will be able to complete a full benefit check for you to establish any entitlements to benefits even if you are eligible to receive SSP.

You might want to claim compensation from your employer, although this can be complicated and take a long time. It’s best if you get legal advice from a solicitor. If you want to make a claim, it must be started within 3 years of the accident.

Going back to work after an injury.

If your accident has caused a long term injury and you are covered under the Disability Discrimination Act, your employer might have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to help you get back to work.

Examples of the types of adjustments that an employer might make include:

*making physical adjustments to the premises

*carrying out lighter duties

*supplying special equipment to help you do your job

*transferring you to a different post or work place

*altering your hours of work or giving you extra time off.

When employers are deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable they can take into account several things, including the cost of making an adjustment and the size of their business. If you are already in the job, your employer can also take into account your skills and experience and the length of time you have worked there.

Even if your employer does not have a legal obligation to make adjustments you could still speak to your employer to see if any adjustments could be negotiated.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland