Your employer has both a statutory and common law duty to take reasonable care for the safety of its employees. If your employer breaches this obligation, what action can you take?
Well, the situation is relatively complex and there are a number of options. The first thing to do is highlight the breach or potential breach to your employer. What you should then do is dependent upon your objectives. If you think the breach of health and safety compromises your ability to keep working for your employer then you have the option of resigning from your employment as a result of the breach of duty and claiming constructive dismissal. If your employer takes disciplinary action against you for highlighting the health and safety issue then you may also have grounds for constructive dismissal. If your employer dismisses you because of your highlighting the health and safety issue then you almost certainly have grounds for automatic unfair dismissal. However, actions for unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal are only open to employees. You must therefore have a contract with your employer and this contract must be a contract of employment. Contract workers, agency workers and casual workers (among others) may be excluded from claiming for unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal.
It is not possible to claim compensation from your employer simply because of your employer’s failure to adhere to their statutory duties relating to Health and Safety. However, your employer may be criminally liable for breach of statutory duty,.
If you’ve suffered physical or mental harm because of your employer’s breach of health and safety then it may be possible to claim for compensation in the civil courts in contract or in tort. These are normally known as “personal injury claims”.
So if you think your employer is breaching health and safety requirements at your workplace here are a number of questions you should ask yourself
- What is the nature of the breach of health and safety?
- How dangerous is the breach to your safety, your fellow workers’ safety, or the public’s safety?
- Have you highlighted your concerns to your employer?
- Has anything been done about the breach of health and safety?
- How serious do you consider this breach and health and safety?