Increased support for campaign to help injured workers

Posted Oct 30, 2018.

A campaign launched by UK trade union the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) to support injured workers who take legal action against their employer has received additional backing from a number of MP’s and the British Safety Council.

USDAW, with over 430,000 members throughout the UK, has been campaigning to lower the threshold limit for cost of small claims as proposed in the Governments Civil Liabilities Bill, currently being processed. The Bill, which was designed to reduce the number of whiplash claims that insurers pay compensation on following road traffic accidents, would see the current small claims limit rise from £1,000 to £2,000 for all injury claim types and from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accident claims. However, the proposed limit increases would also mean that many claims for workplace injury compensation would also end up in the small claims court – in such claims, legal costs are usually not recoverable, therefore most solicitors and law firms would be unable to provide proper representation and assistance with the claim.

Richard Burgon MP, in a recent debate on the Bill in the House of Commons, said that:

“When legal fees are not covered, tens of thousands of working people will simply be priced out of obtaining legal assistance, resulting in many pulling, dropping or not pursuing their cases.”

Ruth George, MP, added:

“It is extremely difficult to determine liability in the case of many accidents at work...Deliveries are made to stores by a third party and there are incidents in warehouses that may be the fault of one party, the fault of another company or the fault of the employee. Those arguments are exceedingly difficult to pin down, especially for an individual claimant, and they require the assistance of a lawyer.”

David Parr, Policy and Technical Services Director at the British Safety Council, which helps to protect workers and workplace conditions, is also supportive of the campaign, saying:

“Workers should not be prevented from pursuing redress whenever they sustain workplace injury or ill-health through no fault of their own simply because of financial limitations…wherever employers are found to be negligent in the management of workplace health and safety, there should be accountability. No-one should be injured or made ill at work, but if they are, workers should have the support and agency to hold the employer to account, so that incidents do not reoccur.”