The question “am I entitled to sick pay when I’ve been injured in an accident at work?” is a common question for people contacting us after they have injured in a workplace accident.
The answer, in a nutshell, is there is no obligation under Irish law for an employer to pay you while you are on sick leave even when the reason you are on sick leave is due to injuries you sustained in an accident at work and that accident was caused by your employer’s negligence.
Someone who has been injured at work and requires weeks or months of recovery time will very quickly find themselves in serious financial difficulty when their only income is their Social Welfare entitlements such as occupational injury benefit or disability benefit. The drop in income can mean inability to pay certain bills, inability to access much needed treatment to assist with their recovery such as physiotherapy, counselling, MRI scans. It can mean missed mortgage repayments.
It goes without saying that very quickly the reduced income can be a source of significant stress at a time when you are already dealing with an injury arising out of an accident that was not your fault. If the accident at work could have been avoided or was caused by the negligence of your employer the situation becomes all the more stressful. It is not unusual for someone injured at work to want to return to work prematurely before they have made a full recovery in circumstances where their income has been so significantly impacted.
However, some employers will pay you in full for a defined period of time if you are unable to work due to illness or injury and this will be provided for in your contract of employment. Similarly, the type of work you do may be governed by other agreements or industry norms that mean you may be able to seek sick pay to some extent from your employer.
Even where your employer does pay you while you are recovering from the injuries caused by the accident at work you should not assume that your employer is accepting responsibility for the accident. If you have been injured in an accident at work which you believe may have been caused by your employer’s negligence you should not delay in seeking legal advice from an experienced personal injury solicitor regardless of whether you decide to proceed with a claim. Important evidence may need to be photographed or preserved so that you can rely on that evidence into the future should you decide to proceed with a claim. It can take some time for an employee to decide to bring a claim for injuries they suffered in an accident at work.
Often the decision to proceed with a personal injuries claim (which includes a claim for loss of earnings) only comes when the employee does not make a full recovery from their injuries or the financial hardship they are suffering as a result of having such a reduced income means they are losing out on important treatment due to the cost or they are struggling to meet mortgage or rent payments. In that situation, essential evidence proving the cause of the accident could be lost due to the passage of time.
If you have been injured at work your treatment by your employer following that accident may also have employment law consequences for you. It is worthwhile therefore consulting with solicitors who are experienced in both personal injury claims and employment law.
At Douglas Law Solicitors we advise clients who have been injured in accidents at work.
We understand that workplace accidents are different to other types of personal injury cases due to the unique legal and personal relationship that exists between employees and their employers. We are experienced in dealing with the complexities of employment law and we take a proactive approach in our handling of these situations ensuring that essential evidence is preserved in order to achieve the best outcome for our clients.
If you have any queries regarding sick pay or a possible claim for injuries you sustained in a workplace accident you can contact either Gráinne O’Donovan or Aoife McCarthy of our Litigation Team on 021 489 7256 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For more information, please see our earlier blog “Have you been injured in a workplace accident?”
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.