Accidents in the workplace

Introduction

Under health and safety laws, your employer has a duty to provide you with a safe place to work.

If you have an accident while at work, you should:

  • Get medical help from your GP (family doctor) or a hospital, if needed
  • Report the accident to your employer
  • Check if you can get sick pay or other benefits

The law on workplace accidents

Workplace accidents are covered by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Employers can face substantial fines and penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation. You can read more abouthealth and safety at work.

Reporting and accident at work

You should report any workplace accident to your employer. Your employer must report certain accidents to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). If you miss more than 3 consecutive days at work because of an accident or injury, your employer must report this to the HSA. The 3 days does not include the day of the accident.

Sick leave and sick pay

In the past you had no legal right to be paid by your employer while you are on sick leave from work, even in the case of a workplace accident.

This changed in 2022 when the Sick Leave Act 2022 (pdf) became law. It has yet to be commenced or ‘take effect’.

Once commenced you will have a right to 3 days’ statutory sick pay a year (increasing to 10 days in year 4). Statutory sick pay means the legal minimum.

You do not have a legal right to sick pay until the law is commenced. But you should check your contract of employment to see if you are entitled to paid sick leave as part of your employers own sick pay scheme (if there is one).

Social welfare payments

There are a number of benefits you may be entitled to while you are out sick.

Occupational Injuries Scheme

The Occupational Injuries Scheme is a group of benefits if you are injured or incapacitated by an accident at work or while travelling directly to or from work.

  • Injury Benefit is paid if you are unfit for work due to an accident at work or while you are travelling to or from work.
  • Under the Medical Care Scheme you can claim certain medical costs that are not paid by the Health Service Executive (HSE) or covered by the Treatment Benefit Scheme.
  • Disablement Benefit is paid if you lose certain physical or mental abilities because of an accident at work or while you are travelling to or from work.

You can find out more about these and other payments under the Occupational Injuries Scheme.

Other social welfare payments

You may get Illness Benefit if you cannot work because you are sick or ill. You must be under 66, covered by the appropriate class of social insurance (PRSI) and satisfy the PRSI conditions.

If you do not have enough PRSI contributions, you may qualify for Disability Allowance which is a means-tested payment. You may qualify if you have an injury, disease or physical or mental disability that has continued or may be expected to continue for at least one year.

If you don’t qualify for Illness Benefit or Disability Allowance, you may be entitled to the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance. If you have returned to work you can claim the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance for up to 30 days while you are waiting for your pay.

PRSI and tax if you are out of work

If you are out of work you may qualify for a credited contribution. A credited social insurance contribution is a contribution given to you and recorded on your social insurance record. Credit contributions are important because you may use them to help you qualify for a social insurance payment.

You may also get a tax refund if you are out of work due to illness. This will depend on the length of time you have been unemployed, the amount of tax you have paid, the amount of tax credits you have used and the amount of your weekly social welfare payment.

Claiming compensation for a work accident or injury

Personal injury claim

You cannot claim compensation from your employer under the health and safety legislation but you can make a personal injury claim through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

If either you or your employer rejects the PIAB assessment, PIAB may give you permission to bring a claim through the civil courts.

Employers’ liability insurance

Your employer may have employers’ liability insurance cover. This cover allows employers to meet the cost of compensation for employee’s injuries or illness in the workplace.

Returning to work

Your employer may have a sick leave and return to work policy to support your safe return after your illness or injury. You may need to give your employer medical evidence that you are fit to return to work. You may need to attend your employer’s medical expert.

If you become disabled through an accident or illness, your workplace may need to be adapted to support your disability. You may also need special equipment to do your job. You can read more about working with a disability.

Being dismissed while on long-term sick leave

If you are dismissed from your job while on long-term certified sick leave, you may bring a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer (if certain conditions are met).

If your illness is a disability under your rights under employment equality legislation are also taken into account.

More information

You can contact the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Information and Customer Service for information about your employment rights.

The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for ensuring that workers (employed and self-employed) and people affected by work activity are protected from work-related injury and ill-health. It provides information to employers, employees and self-employed people on workplace health and safety.

FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent, voluntary organisation that operates a network of legal advice clinics throughout the country. These clinics are confidential, free of charge and open to all. If you need legal advice, contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre for information on FLAC services in your area.

Page edited: 9 August 2022