Covid-19 compensation is a hot topic ever since the pandemic turned the world upside down. At first, Covid-19 was just talked about, perhaps a few people were worried about it, but few predicted the devastating effect it would have on the world. Nowadays, we are surrounded by face masks, PPE, contactless devices and hand sanitizer stations. It is a completely different world to what we previously lived in. The world of work has changed due to Covid-19.With it, the UK legal system must make adjustments as well.
We already have remote consultations and video hearings in place to continue getting clients justice. But the real thing on everyone’s mind is whether or not someone could sue an employer for allowing them to catch Covid-19 or perhaps sue a local authority for having an unsafe public space. This is all up in the air at the moment, which is why you may feel a little confused or vulnerable about even setting out in public. That’s why it’s time for Gowing Law to give you some clarity about how you could claim compensation for Covid-19 and the difficulties that stand before you.
Covid-19 compensation & support: How has the legal system changed?
As a top legal team in Manchester, we think it is essential that all of our solicitors understand how the court system is being updated to lessen the spread of Covid-19. Nowadays, everything is all about working remotely. Just look at our work teams. If you are an office worker then it’s very likely that you are working from home or you have been informed of your staggered work schedule and how you can keep your work environment safe. Even if you a retail worker or are in a construction site, you should have had safety systems put in place to protect you during the work day.
The same safety policies have also been put in place to keep those in the legal system safe. Take a look at some examples of changes below:
All of these changes have been created with the UK public in mind. They incorporate social distancing and breaking the chain of contact. That way there is less chance that Covid-19 can be spread.
Covid-19 compensation: Is there potential to make a claim?
This is where it gets a little tricky in our discussion. But naturally, compensation is on a lot of people’s minds. If you get sick due to catching Covid-19 in your workplace or in a public environment, could you claim compensation? After all, you may have taken all of the necessary precautions to keep yourself from getting sick. Yet you still caught Covid-19. You may have been put on sick pay, but perhaps that is not enough to keep you afloat. Worse still, you may have been unfairly dismissed due to getting ill. In itself, this is unacceptable and could end in an employer tribunal. However, it could also potentially count as an accident at work or accident in a public place claim.
Employees, Employers & Entitlement
There is only a certain amount of time before people start to grow interested in this topic. That’s why it’s important that we address it as quickly as possible so our clients know how to proceed.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 is not yet listed as an occupational disease within the Employee’s Compensation Ordinance (ECO). That means an employee would only be entitled to compensation if Covid-19 was contracted during their employment. As the employee, you need to prove that the infection happened due to being exposed without any protection. This is where the difficulty of the case can appear.
Some people will be able to immediately show how they were able to catch Covid-19. They can demonstrate their employer’s short-comings or what the problems are with the public environment. However, others may not be able to show the connection between the environment and the employee activity.
Employees: How do I make a compensation claim?
Now that you understand the difficulties of making a compensation claim for Covid-19, you need to prove that your employee understood that there was a risk when it came to re-opening your work place. They identified the risk but did nothing to sort it out or limit exposure. Take a look at the case study below to see an example of this:
Due to the layout of his office and the lack of social-distancing, Charlie was exposed more to Covid-19 than he wanted to be. Worse still, after airing his grievances with his manager, he was not listened to. After developing symptoms of Covid-19 and having visited no other areas that could have exposed him to Covid-19, it is clear that Charlie caught it from his work environment. This could mean that he has a potential work accident claim. Keep in mind though, if you have been visiting a number of public spaces that are full of people, the claim may not be this simple. You need to prove completely that your sickness was due to a bad work environment and the negligence of your employer. They breached their “duty of care” towards you. This is why you became sick in the first place.
How can I prove I caught Covid-19 from my work rather than a different public area?
Acording to civil law, any claimants need to prove their issues based on a “balance of probabilities.” In lay-man’s terms, that means you figure out what caused you problem on what is more likely than what isn’t likely. That’s why your employer needs to identify any risks of “causation” that could increase the spread of disease in the first place.
Let’s use an example to make things a bit simpler. If one of your employees suddenly called in sick after reporting symptoms of Covid-19, it is highly likely that in a few days’ time, a few other employees may call in to report that they are experiencing the same symptoms and need to isolate at home. Therefore, it is very likely that you could prove that Covid-19 was contracted from work. Therefore, the employer is liable to pay damages to the employee in either sick pay, or even as Covid-19 compensation if the employee wants to push the claim further.
Employers: What is the safest way to ensure your employees don’t get Covid-19?
Here at Gowing Law, we understand that Covid-19 compensation claims do sound rather daunting. They don’t exactly fall under one bracket in particular. Some may say they are a form of accident damages, others may say they would result in an employer tribunal. The best way to avoid any sort of confusion is to look after everyone who comes in to your place of business or even a public area that you are responsible for.
Firstly, let’s remind ourselves of the advice that was given to UK citizens at the start of the pandemic. Back in March, we were advised by the UK government to go to work:
”Where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home”
Whilst this is quite old advice, you should still keep it in mind when you consider whether or not you should have your employees or even clients on-site. The best way to avoid any sort of future illnesses or Covid-19 compensation claims is to have your employees work from home. This can lessen the spread. It is very easy to set them up with a VPN or even to simply call in and ask them for updates about what they are doing. That way you can ensure that they are always on task. If you do need them in the office, make sure that the amount of time they are inside is staggered and that they only come in once or twice a week to keep up with their work-load.
The world of work is changing and you need to be ready to adapt with it. You should also take care to listen to any complaints your workers bring up. The faster you act, the more likely it is you can prevent the spread.
How long will it take to make a Covid-19 compensation claim?
Naturally, if you are making a compensation claim based on catching Covid-19, you may be considering how long it would take to make a claim. It is important that you are patient with your solicitors and the UK court system. After all, due to the lockdown, the UK court system is now battling to catch up with cases that have been pushed back. That’s why if you do have a valid accident at work claim or perhaps an accident in a public place claim, you should get in touch with a solicitor as quickly as possible. That way you can work with a solicitor to find out how you can make a claim and how long it may take.
The faster you get in contact, the less likely it is there will be delays. Make sure to keep in contact with your solicitor to learn the latest updates of your case.
What else should I be thinking about when it comes to Covid-19?
Now we have talked about the possibility of claiming Covid-19 compensation from your employer, let’s move on to something a little more serious. We understand that thinking of a will can be upsetting, however if you are in a vulnerable group or age-range, you should be thinking about the future. You need to think about your loved ones and what you want to leave behind if you do fall victim to Covid-19 and unfortunately do not recover. This is why you should start to plan out a will.
Gowing Law Solicitors can help you figure out exactly what you want to leave behind for your loved ones. It can be difficult to figure out how your assets should be split and who should benefit from your will. A trained will solicitor can go through all of your assets with you and your executor. They can write up a draft and make changes based on your needs. To validate the will, you can socially distance with two other people. This will ensure that you can prove it has been through all of the legalized motions. Some people have even taken to signing wills on the front of their car. This is to ensure that there is no transfer of germs.
If you are interested in writing a will, Gowing Law Solicitors have will-writing solicitors ready to help you. Our prices are £70 per single will and £95 per joint will. Get in contact with us today to get started.
How do I make a compensation claim with Gowing Law Solicitors?
Here at Gowing Law, we completely understand if you are feeling a little vulnerable about the current crisis. It is a scary time for all of us and right now we are still trying to find our footing. We want to continue our lives. However we need to take a moment to slow down in order to keep our friends and family safe. That’s why Gowing Law can help you understand exactly what you are owed for your losses. We can guide you and give you advice about how you can move forward with your claim.
Our Manchester solicitors can offer you free advice and consultations remotely. This will make sure that you can continue to isolate. It will help you avoid the spread of any germs. If you are happy to work with our team, you can enjoy our services on a “no win-no fee” basis. That means you will always come out on top.
Want to learn more about Covid-19 and the law?
It’s important that you stay as informed as possible about the UK legal system and its reaction to Covid-19. That’s why Gowing Law has produced a series of blogs dedicated to letting you know your rights and how you can keep safe in the workplace. Our blog is updated every week with new content. So, make sure to keep an eye on it to learn more. If you can’t find the topic you are interested in, let us know! We would be more than happy to write about your suggestions. Write in to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!