Can I claim for a work injury if I was on a zero-hours contract?

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If you are injured at work and you are on a zero-hours contract, you may still be able to claim financial compensation. Here's what you need to know.

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 for the provision of 'casual work'. If you are on a zero-hours contract then the company you are working for is not contractually obliged to guarantee you any work. If the company does offer you work, you are not obliged to take it.

If you are already self employed and you accept work on a zero-hours basis, you will still be considered self-employed.

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 employment status

Zero-hours contracts have received a lot of bad press. Many have argued that, in reality, employers are trying to enjoy the benefits of employees at their beck and call, without incurring the cost and responsibility of fully employing staff.

Employers do not need to pay employer's National Insurance, holiday pay or sick pay. If the employer wishes they can simply stop offering work to the contractor, avoiding costly HR processes.

Zero-hours contracts are a relatively recent evolution in the employment market. Nevertheless, numerous zero-hours contract 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 cannot be liable for your injury as they are not (technically) your employer. However, the key test will be how much influence the employer, or employing agency, has over you and your working environment.

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.

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There are also a number of other health and safety responsibilities that employers must abide by.

See also:

Can I make an injury claim if I am self employed?

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.

What happens if I have an accident at work?

If you are injured due to your employer’s negligence, you may 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
  • You have sufficient training to carry out your work safely
  • You have the necessary tools and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required to keep you safe.

If your working conditions are unsafe in any way and you are injured as a result, being on a zero-hours contract should not deter you from pursuing compensation.

Could 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.

If the employer with whom you are contracted 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, you should 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.

Read more:

Making a work injury claim

Could I lose my job if I claim against my employer?

No record in the accident book - Can I still claim?

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning work accident claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Author:
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher