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Compensation Scheme COVID-19

 

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to infections to the work force that, in certain instances could be prevented had employers taken the advice by the Government to stem the infection rates.

The virus is invisible and potentially deadly, you can be a carrier of the COVID-19 virus without symptoms and pass it to others including your loved ones, work colleagues and strangers who may then develop symptoms which can lead to death.  If you are forced into work without suitable protection and they do not adopt the advice provided by the Government's daily briefings and contract the coronavirus you may be entitled to take action for compensation against your employer, or if you are self-employed against the main contractor on site or on the premises where you work.

 

Risk At Work – Why Can You Claim Compensation?

All employers have a duty of care to their work force to ensure that they are protected at work from dangers and this includes exposure to the coronavirus.

The existing protection laws are adequate and well established for employees to take action against employers who fail in their duty of care.  For example the provision of personal protective equipment such as masks to prevent inhalation of asbestos dust, dangerous fumes and chemicals.  This will also include COVID-19.

NHS nursers and NHS Doctors are fully aware of the transmission of infection and provides adequate training for all staff to ensure adequate protection against the coronavirus by NHS workers and other transmitted diseases, such as   careful hand hygiene precautions and the use of personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and safe disposal.  Again this procedure will be adopted to spread the virus.

There are current complaints by NHS staff, Nurses and Doctors that there is insufficient personal protective equipment and masks.  There are stories that NHS staff are required to ‘share masks’ which is unacceptable for front line worders treating vulnerable patients.  A high risk issue for the Government to protect the NHS staff where there can be criticism that they have fallen short of their duty of care.  Any NHS staff that are not provided suitable protection and contract the disease may consider possible action.

 

Some Laws That Are Well Established To Protect Workers

The coronavirus pandemic is not something new in so far as there is no law to help protect workers at risk.  There are numerous protective legislation that can be relied upon against an employer or contractors that engage self-employed workers to claim compensation for injury and loss as a result of their failure to protect the work force.

The following laws and guidance are just a few:

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

Respiratory Protective Equipment at Work

Controlling Airborne Contaminants At Work

In addition to the above guidance, there are numerous case law made by the Courts that provide and interpret what duty of care means and find against employers and contractors in negligence.

The Health and Safety Executive has also issued guidelines on the use of protective equipment to protect against coronavirus on face masks.

Key workers

Unless you are a key worker you must stay at home.  However the Government have provided clear guidance that unless you cannot work from home you may travel to work providing it is safe to do so.  The safety guidance is clear in that your employers or contractor must be able to allow you to work at least 2 metres from your work-colleagues.  If that is not possible your employer or contractor must not allow you to come to work.

Coronavirus Compensation Scheme

We are now taking instructions by those workers that have been affected by this pandemic who have been forced to work under conditions that is contrary to the Government Guidance and daily briefings. If you have contracted the virus and have suffered only a mild form of symptoms your claim may be assessed in the region of about £1,000 to £1,500.  If the symptoms are worse then the compensation levels will be much higher.  If you have had the virus at work and inadvertently transmitted it to your family for instance, it is reasonable to consider a claim by all the family members that have been affected against your employer or contractor at fault.  In addition to the suffering from the disease you may also claim for lost earnings and expenses.

Get in touch with us now, engage our live chat on the website or use our contact page to submit a claim for coronavirus COVID-19 compensation.

 

Some Factors Employers/Contractors Must Take Into Account

Here are some of the laws and duties that employers and contractors owe to workers and the self-employed:

  • Each employer or contractors must ensure a working environment for their employees/self-employed that is safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work. This provision is quite generic and will include:
  • the two metre distance rule between employees and the self-employed;
  • if necessary the provision of suitable masks,
  • ample and clean washing facilities,
  • regular cleaning or deep cleaning of the work place.
  • Each employer or contractors must ensure there is provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, safe for employees/self-employed to protect them from contracting coronavirus at work, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;
  • Each employer or contractor must provide information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, the reduction, protection and spread of the corona virus at the work place;
  • To ensure the safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances that includes protection against the coronavirus;
  • Every employer or contractor should provide a written statement of their general policy about the dangers of coronavirus at the work place and arrangements to implement and enforce the COVID-19 policy. There is no point in having a policy where the employer or contractor does not enforce the rules.

 

Can Self-Employed Claim Compensation for Coronavirus?

There are laws to protect the self-employed if you are required under contract by the main contractor (who has control of the site or premises where you work) to force you to come to work without appropriate protection against the virus.

Many of the laws are applicable for employees but the courts can interpret those laws and guidelines to the self-employed workers.

The main statutory law that helps the self-employed for being exposed to the coronavirus under the Occupiers Liability Act 

If you are self-employed and your contractor forces you to work at their premises where they cannot guarantee the COVID-19 2 metre distance rule between other workers on site, again whilst the contractor is not your employer, they are under a duty under the Occupiers Liability Act to ensure all people who enter their premises (or land that includes building sites) are responsible for all workers health and safety.

Indeed Section 2 (2) of the Act provides for a common duty of care take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that all workers and visitors will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.

Coronavirus Government Guidance

Employers and contractors must take heed of the Government Guidance concerning the health and safety of their employees and self-employed who work on site or upon their contractors premises.

Stay At Home

COVID-19 A Guide to Coronavirus

 

How did the outbreak begin?

The following is general  information on the coronavirus.

On 31st December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was made aware of a cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. However, there was a reportedly a common link to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, which was a bustling place of wholesale fish and live animals. Although the exact source is unknown, animal markets pose a heightened risk of viruses jumping from animals to humans as hygiene standards are difficulty to maintain. They are also densely packed.

The market was closed on 1st January 2020 and according to the Wuhan Health Commission, numerous samples from the market test positive for the novel “coronavirus”. The virus seen to cause the outbreak is known as SARS-COV-3, a new virus related to bat and pangolin coronaviruses, as well as the previously seen SARS-COV.


What is a “coronavirus”?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new virus, have made jumps to humans but typically causes cold-like symptoms. There have been well-known cases of other coronavirus outbreaks in the past.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), reported in 2012, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), reported in 2002 and 2004, posed a significant threat due to their fatality rate, which at the moment is greater than Covid-19. Nonetheless, the Coronavirus has rapidly spread, and the long-term consequences of the virus are still relatively unknown.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Covid-19 are defined as being “non-specific”, those infected may either develop flu-like symptoms characterised by fever, cough and fatigue whilst others are asymptomatic. The disease can further develop, leading to severe pneumonia, sepsis and death. According to the Chinese authorities, around 80% of cases of the disease are mild, but the other 20% require hospitalisation and the death rate has varied by country.

 

How has the virus spread?

Details are still being learned regarding how the disease is transmitted. According to the World Health Organisation and the United States Centre for Disease Control, it is mainly spread during close contact (defined as being within 3 to 6 feet of one another) and via respiratory droplets produced when coughing and sneezing. In addition to respiratory secretions, other coronaviruses have been detected in blood, faeces and urine.

Under certain circumstances, airborne transmission of other coronaviruses is thought to have occurred via unprotected exposure to aerosols of respiratory secretions and sometimes faecal material.

How did it arrive in the UK?

On 21st January, there was a confirmed case of Covid-19 in America after a man returned to Washington from Wuhan, China, where there were 440 confirmed cases at the time. As a result, London’s Heathrow Airport received additional clinical support and tightened surveillance of the three direct flights that it receives from Wuhan every week; each were to be met by a Port Health team.

In addition, all airports in the UK were to make written guidance (in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese) available for unwell travellers. Simultaneously, efforts to trace 2,000 people who had flown into the UK from Wuhan over the previous 14 days were implemented in hopes of identifying potential coronavirus cases.

The first confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were recorded on 31st January, when two members of a Chinese family staying in a hotel in York, one of whom studied at the University of York. Upon confirmation, they were transferred from a hospital in Hull and entered a specialist isolation facility. That same day, an emergency flight from Wuhan landed in the UK and the passengers, none of whom were showing symptoms, were also entered into quarantine in a residence at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

There were massive concerns over whether the government should assist the repatriation of UK citizens from Wuhan and the Hubei Province, which at the time was the most affected area in China.

What are the implications for the UK?

There have been many implications for the UK as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with the economy suffering greatly. The Dow and the FTSE have seen their biggest one-day declines since 1987. Investors fear the spread of the coronavirus will destroy economic growth and that government action may not be enough to stop the decline. In response, central banks in many countries have cut interest rates. That should, in theory, make borrowing cheaper and encourage spending to boost the economy.

The travel industry has also been damaged as airlines have cut flights and tourists have cancelled upcoming trips and holidays, this has been exacerbated as Governments around the globe impose travel restrictions in hopes of containing the virus.

Fear of the virus and anxiety about employment and income has also led to customers buying less material goods. This is evidenced in the UK with the demise of retailers such as Carphone Warehouse and Laura Ashley.

 

How has the Government responded?

The UK Government has responded with several measures, adopting safety precautions as seen around the world. The general advice has been to maintain “social distancing”, by staying more than 6ft away from others and to wash your hands frequently.

However, their advice to stay at home has posed difficulty for workers, many of who are now left in peril with either no way of carrying out their job from home or from simply being told they are no longer needed. Furthermore, closures to pubs and restaurants was seen to have a significant impact on numerous business’ across the country.

In order to combat this, Rishi Sunak, the current chancellor of the exchequer announced a Government pledge to pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a radical move aimed at protecting people's jobs. The wages cover, which relates to gross pay, will be backdated to the start of March and last for three months, but Mr Sunak said he would extend the scheme for longer "if necessary".

The are arguments that the Governments stance has not been hardline enough, with other countries around Europe enforcing a strict lockdown much sooner than seen in the UK. This is evidenced when a request for the nation to “stay indoors” was largely ignored on Mothers Day.

Start Your Coronavirus Compensation Claim

Get in touch with us now, engage our live chat on the website or use our contact page to submit a claim for coronavirus COVID-19 compensation.

 

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