Workplace accidents or injuries
If you have an accident while at work or on your way to work, you need to find out what you should do. If necessary, you should seek medical help from your local general practitioner (GP or family doctor) or from a hospital. You should report the accident to your employer. Then you may need to check if there are any benefits or entitlements that you may be eligible for while you are out of work and what to expect when you return to work.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 sets out the rights and obligations of both employers and employees and provides for substantial fines and penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation. You can read more in our document on health and safety at work.
Reporting of accidents
You should report an accident while on your way to work or while at work to your employer.
An employer must report any accidents to the Health and Safety Authority when an employee is missing 3 consecutive days at work (not including the day of the accident).
Sick leave and sick pay
You should check if you have an entitlement to paid sick leave in the terms and conditions of your contract of employment. In general, an employee has no right under employment law to be paid while on sick leave.
Social welfare payments
There are a number of benefits which you may be entitled to while you are out sick.
Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme
The Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme is a group of benefits for people injured or incapacitated by an accident at work or while travelling directly to or from work.
Injury Benefit is a weekly payment made to you if you are unfit for work due to an accident at work or an accident while travelling (on an unbroken journey) directly 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 can be paid to you if you suffer a loss of physical or mental faculty because of an accident at work, an accident travelling directly to or from work, or a prescribed disease contracted at work.
You can find out more about these and other payments under the scheme in our document on the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme.
You may get Illness Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection if you cannot work because you are sick or ill. You must be aged 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 wages.
PRSI and tax
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.
Employers’ liability insurance
Your employer may have taken out employers’ liability insurance cover. This cover enables employers to meet the cost of compensation for their employee’s injuries or illness which occur while their employees are working.
Personal injury claim
You cannot seek 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 assessment, PIAB will issue you with an authorisation allowing you to make a claim through the civil courts.
Returning to work
Your employer may have a sick leave and return to work policy to support a safe return for the employee who has had an illness or injury. In terms of medical evidence you may be required to attend your employer's medical expert.
If you become disabled through an accident or illness, your disability may require that your workplace be adapted or you may need special equipment in order to perform your job. You can read more in our document on working with a disability.
Dismissal: If you are dismissed from your employment while on long-term certified sick leave, you may, under certain conditions, bring a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer. If your illness is considered to be a disability under employment equality legislation, your rights under that particular legislation would also have to be taken into consideration.
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has specific functions in relation to the implementation of employment laws. You can contact the WRC’s 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.