What Is Duty of Care & What Are My Rights?

Employers have a duty of care to their staff in which they must ensure that they are doing all they can, as far as is reasonably practical to maintain, to ensure employees’ safety, health and welfare whilst at the workplace. Whilst there is no specific legislation detailing an employer’s duty of care to staff, employers are regulated and must adhere to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.


Whilst it is near impossible for an employer to completely eliminate all potential risks within the workplace, it is your right as an employee to be provided with a safe working environment. Should you be a victim of duty of care negligence you are completely within your rights to pursue a lawsuit against your employer without fear of losing your job due to The Protected Disclosures Act 2014.


What is an employer’s duty of care in Ireland?

Employers in Ireland have a duty of care to their employees as dictated by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. In order to conform to the aforementioned act, they must do the following:


  • Maintain safety in all workplaces including any machinery and equipment.
  • Carry out a risk assessment and provide safety statements.
  • Ensure any potentially hazardous chemicals or substances are correctly stored and handled in order to prevent exposure.
  • Provide sufficient health and safety training.
  • Provide PPE where necessary.
  • Have a designated safety officer.
  • Report any accident at work which results in an employee missing. three consecutive days at work to the Health and Safety Authority.


What are my common law rights?

Employers have legal responsibilities to their employees. We completely sympathise that making a potential claim against your employer can be daunting, however, you and your job are legally protected in doing so by The Protected Disclosures Act 2014.


Health and Safety laws apply to all workplaces, which cover providing simple facilities such as toilets and clean drinking water to keep the workplace clean and keeping up to date with equipment maintenance.


If you have come to any harm whilst at work due to your employer not maintaining their duty of care, you would likely not be liable to pay for any expenses incurred due to this. You are therefore eligible to look at making a claim of compensation against your employer.


As an employee you also have a duty of care with regard to the safety of yourself and others, meaning that you cannot obstruct or interfere with anything which goes against the guidelines provided in your health and safety training.


How to make a claim against my employer

  • You must seek the relevant medical help needed, this step helps to gauge the severity of the injury and any long-term effects it may have.
  • It is also essential to report any incidents to your employer directly – ensure any incidents are documented.
  • If you feel your employer has been negligent with regard to their duty of care which has resulted in an accident or injury at work you can consult a professional solicitor to facilitate a compensation claim.
  • In order to receive compensation, you will have to submit an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board – they will determine the amount of compensation you should be awarded if it is deemed that you are entitled.
  • If you feel that the amount suggested by the Personal Injuries Assessment Board is too low you are able to ask for a reassessment.
  • Claims must be made within two years of the accident, however, it is recommended to begin your claim as soon as possible.


Duty of care FAQs

Duty of care can seem like an alien and daunting concept. We have broken down some frequently asked questions which we hope will help your understanding both of what an employer’s duty of care is and also your rights as an employee.


What does ‘duty of care’ mean?

Essentially, an employer’s duty of care means that they have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees as reasonably practical.


Do I need to seek medical attention in order to make a claim?

Yes, seeking medical attention is essential to making a claim as it is the only way you will get a proper idea of what your injury is and any long term effects. Compensation is awarded based off the severity of your injury and any further impact to yourself based off the injuries caused by the incident. Without seeking medical attention it would be extremely difficult for the claim to be awarded as there would be no evidence of injury.


Will I lose my job if I make a claim against my employer?

You are protected from losing your job for making a claim against your employer. If you were to be penalised for making a claim you would then have grounds for legal proceedings against your employer for unfair dismissal.


How long do I have to make a claim?

Any claims must be made within two years of the initial incident.


How long does the claim take?

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board will reach a decision within nine months of receiving your claim.


How do I know if I am eligible to make a claim?

You must ensure that you seek necessary medical attention, report the incident to your employer directly and then contact a solicitor to handle your case. It is essential to ensure that all these steps are followed in order to assess the injury and also who is at fault.


Is there an average compensation award?

The amount of compensation you receive can differ greatly, this is dependent on the injury. Generally, compensation claims take into account any medical expenses, pain, distress and loss of earnings in order to reach a final sum.


If you believe you have a potential claim due to your employer breaching their Duty of Care towards you, you can contact us for further help and advice. We offer a nationwide service and have offices in Donegal and Dublin. McGinley Solicitors LLP have been established since 1988 and have a wealth of experience within the realm of personal injury claims, so you will be in safe hands with our experts.

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