Can I claim for a work injury on a zero-hours contract?
If you are injured at work due to someone else’s negligence and you are on a zero hours contract, can you still claim compensation?
What is a zero hours contract?
A zero hours contract, sometimes referred to as a ‘casual contract’, is an agreement between an individual and employer over the provision of casual work. The employer is not obliged to guarantee work, and when work does arise the individual is not obliged to take it.
You can take up work on a zero hours contract if you are self-employed, but your self-employed status does not change if you do. If you are not self-employed, your employment status under a zero hours contract will either be that of a ’worker’, or an employee of the company.
Establishing your status
Zero hours contracts have received a lot of bad press. Many have argued that the employer is trying to have his cake and eat it by shirking then responsibilities owed to employees.
Zero hours contracts are a relatively recent evolution in the employment market. Nevertheless, numerous injury cases have been heard in court and it is now easier to see how such cases are viewed.
The employer may argue that they have no responsibility as they are not technically an employer. The key test will, however, be how much influence the employer, or employing agency, has over the employee.
Whether employee rights can be established or not, all employers have a legal obligation duty to take ‘reasonable care’ of the premises and working environment under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.
Assuming all other claim criteria are met, an occupiers liability claim should be possible at the very least.
There are also a number of other Health and Safety responsibilities that employers must abide by.
Do I have employment rights?
The government 'Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy' states that:
‘Everyone employed on a zero hours contract is entitled to statutory employment rights. There are no exceptions… Any individual on a zero hours contract who is a ‘worker’ will be entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage, paid annual leave, rest breaks and protection from discrimination.’
If your employment status changes from a ‘worker’ to an ‘employee’, you should be afforded more employment rights, for example statutory notice rights.
You may also be expected to accept a certain number of hours as part of your contract.
So, what happens if I have an accident at work?
If you are injured due to your employer’s negligence, you may well be entitled to compensation. Regardless of the type of contract you are on, it is your employer’s job to ensure that:
- Your working environment is safe, clean and tidy
- You have sufficient training to carry out your work safely
- You have any tools and protective equipment required to keep you safe.
If your working conditions are unsafe in any way and you are injured as a result, your zero hours contract should not deter you from pursuing compensation.
A personal injury solicitor can advise you as to the strength of your case.
Might making a claim jeopardise my contract?
Legislation is in place to ensure you are treated fairly at work, regardless of your contract.
Your employer is not legally allowed to suspend or fire you for pursuing a personal injury claim. If you are still fit to work, your contract stands and your employer is bound by the terms of it, regardless of whether you are seeking compensation .
If your injury means taking time off work, the terms of your contract (how much sick pay you are entitled to) will still apply; the reason for your time off should not change this.
If the employer with whom you have a zero hours contract becomes difficult to deal with due to the personal injury claim, you have every right to seek work elsewhere while maintaining the contract with them.
The 'Small Business, Enterprise and 'Employment Act' prohibits the use of exclusivity clauses or terms in any zero hours contract.
If an accident happens, do the following where possible
- Report the accident and log it in the accident book
- Gather names and addresses from any witnesses
- Take photos of the scene and your injuries
- Make notes if you can, detailing the environment and conditions in which the work accident happened.
The more detail you can collate at the time of the accident, the stronger the case your personal injury solicitor can build for you.
How can Quittance help?
Quittance is a panel of highly experienced no win, no fee personal injury solicitors.
Our solicitors have an excellent track record of winning employment liability claims, including so hours contract claims, and will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.
To speak to us about your claim, without obligation, call 0800 612 7456 or click here to arrange a callback.