By Rebecca Hennessy
Many clients refrain from making claims against their employers whilst they remain in employment – usually this is because they fear some form of retaliation – they worry that they will lose their jobs or that their work life will become difficult.
Many Claimants wait until they leave their employment and that can make it difficult to obtain evidence, such as independent witnesses or photographs of defects or problems. Although you have a right to bring your claim within 3 years, it can be better to act sooner rather than later.
So can your employer fire you if you make a Personal Injury claim? The answer is no. Although employment law is a separate issue, employers can be sued for unfair dismissal – bringing a claim against your employer is your right as an employee. In fact, employers are required to have Employers’ Liability Insurance in accordance with the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.
You may be worried that your employers will start treating you differently. Again, this is an employment issue because if your employers purposely make your working life unbearable then you may be able to claim for constructive dismissal. If you are in this position, seek advice from an Employment Solicitor, your local Citizens Advice Bureau (for free) or ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).
The next issue is that, even if you are happy to give evidence against your employers, your colleagues may not. It’s understandable that someone maybe fearful of retribution and therefore unwilling to give evidence and help your case; they too should be able to give evidence without fear.
If they want to help but are unwilling to give evidence, don’t pressure them – if they change their mind at any point, they may still be unwilling to help you if you pressure them. Tell them to seek impartial advice; asking the witness to speak to your lawyer may reassure them but independent advice is a good approach for witnesses who are concerned.
If your colleague tells you that they have put something in writing, inform your solicitor immediately – this falls under “standard disclosure” and should be provided with your employers’ denial of liability, regardless of whether it is supports their denial or adversely affects it!