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Can I claim compensation if I catch coronavirus at work?

As businesses slowly start to return to a new stage of normality, a lot of employees may be concerned about returning to work in light of COVID-19 and need reassurance that their employers have correctly implemented safety measures to reduce the risk of the virus spreading between employees.

The law for employers has not changed despite the pandemic, and an employee may be entitled to claim compensation if they contract COVID-19 because their employer has not done enough to ensure that their workplace is safe.

 

Employers have a legal duty to care for the health and safety of employees

 

Photograph of call centre employees at work with PPE and COVID protection equipment at their desks

Employers have a legal responsibility to take reasonable care for the health and safety of their employees, and they must take reasonable steps to do this. Specifically, employers must take steps to ensure a safe system of work, safe premises, safe equipment, and competent staff.

In order to ensure that workplaces are COVID safe and secure, employers must ensure that they carry out risk assessments. However, this alone is insufficient. They must also carefully and safely implement measures that are recommended by the government to protect staff and avoid being found at fault if an employee contracts coronavirus at work. In line with the current rapidly changing government guidance, employers must review and update their risk assessments regularly to ensure that the most effective measures are in place and working effectively.
 

Vulnerable employees’ rights

Employers also have a duty to consider staff who are pregnant or have underlying health conditions. Potentially, vulnerable employees who contract coronavirus at work may also be able to claim if they are required to return to work when they are able to operate perfectly well and safely from home.
 

Appropriate PPE must be provided to protect employees against the level of risk to their health in their workplace

Employee wearing PPE in an office with his laptop and bottle of anti-bacterial gel on his desk

In addition, any employees who are exposed to health and safety risks, such as COVID-19, must be provided with PPE by their employers where other measures are inadequate to guard against the risk of the transmission of coronavirus.

The types of PPE that should be provided to employees will differ depending on the work undertaken and the sector the employee works in. For example, the types of PPE used by healthcare professionals, including surgical face masks, aprons, and gloves, are unlikely to be proportionate to work carried out by construction or office workers. Nevertheless, employees must be provided with PPE that protects them against the level of risk to their health in their workplace. Employers must get this right by undertaking regular risk assessments and acting accordingly in line with any government guidance.

Other obvious measures which employers must take to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the workplace include ensuring social distancing of two metres between employees wherever possible, installing a sufficient number of handwashing facilities, and sterilising and disinfecting all equipment, machinery, and workstations.
 

How can HNK Solicitors help?

Man holding a briefcase and a COVID surgical mask

If you believe that you have contracted coronavirus due to any ineffective safety measures implemented in your workplace, you could be entitled to make a claim. Get in touch with our specialist team at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com or 0151 688 0809 to arrange a free no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your claim.

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