Self-employment is becoming more popular in the UK. In 2008, there were 3.8 million self-employed people in the UK, but the Office for National Statistics revealed this figure increased to 4.6 million in 2015. Making your own way in the world of work can create the opportunity to earn more money, but it is not for the faint-hearted. Self-employment in any field is challenging and may involve long hours, at least to begin with. However, many self-employed workers would agree they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Of course, injuries at work can potentially happen to anyone, even though most people will complete their working lives without suffering any major mishaps in the workplace. Someone who is employed by someone else may have the opportunity to claim compensation if they can prove a third party had been negligent. But surely this doesn’t apply to self-employed workers? After all, they are not employed by anyone else, so they would only have themselves to blame for anything that happened.
But this may not be the case, as you will shortly see.
Which industry do you work in?
All self-employed workers do jobs for other people. Think of the construction industry, for example. Plumbers, builders, carpenters and other similar tradespeople all work in this industry, and many of them are self-employed. This means they may work for various companies and contractors throughout their career.
The important point to note is that employment law and tax law are two different things. As HM Revenue and Customs states, someone who is self-employed under the terms of tax laws could be treated as an employee when looking at employment law. This sounds confusing and it can be difficult to work out which status self-employed workers have in some instances. However, it does mean self-employed workers could potentially be able to make a claim for some compensation if they have been hurt while doing their job.
How common are injuries in the workplace?
The answer depends on the work you do. For example, around 66,000 non-fatal workplace injuries are reported each year in the construction industry, which is regarded as one of the more potentially-dangerous industries to work in. In contrast, the number of non-fatal injuries taking place in the public administration sector drops to around 38,000 each year.
Of course, even when injuries in a workplace or industry are rare, you can never tell if you are going to be one of the unlucky ones. Self-employed workers could be injured just as easily as employed workers, and they may face a unique set of circumstances if this should happen to them:
- Self-employed individuals do not receive sick pay
- They will not get paid for any period they do not work
- They could face financial worries far sooner than an employed worker in the same situation
- They would not have the support of an employer
As you can see, when self-employed workers are injured and require treatment or time off work, they immediately lose out financially. This holds true even if they were not at fault for the injury they suffered.
Who might be to blame for accidents suffered by self-employed workers?
The crux of the issue is to determine who was at fault for the accident the individual suffered. For example, if you were working on a building site and someone else left tools on the floor and you tripped over them and broke your wrist, that individual would have been negligent in not tidying up after themselves and keeping their surroundings safe. Another example might be that the construction company you were carrying out work for did not ensure the workplace was safe. Perhaps they did not construct scaffolding and asked you to use a ladder instead, which was unsafe and led to you experiencing a nasty fall.
It’s not just construction sites that could lead to potential accidents, though. Some freelance workers go into offices to meet clients, for instance. They might be photographers, copywriters, accountants or indeed fulfilling any other role for that client. However, when they are on that client’s business premises, the client has a duty to ensure the premises are safe and meet all health and safety requirements. If this doesn’t happen, and the worker is injured, the client could be at fault and be found negligent in the eyes of the law.
Finding out whether you have an opportunity to claim compensation
We’ve seen that anyone who is self-employed will lose money if they do not or cannot work. This can be considered if a compensation claim can be made on their behalf by an experienced personal injury lawyer, providing negligence can be proven. All kinds of accidents happen in the workplace, but some are more common than others. HSE figures reveal that an average of 122,000 cases of people sustaining injuries while handling, lifting or carrying things occurred for the years 2013-14 and 2015-16. A further 119,000 cases of slips, trips and falls were also noted as an average for those years.
With 30.4 million days lost due to injuries and illness caused in the workplace each year, it’s important to minimise the risks as much as we can. However, if you’ve already been hurt and you’re self-employed, it’s vital to find out if someone else was to blame. This won’t cost anything to do, as you’re about to find out. It means you can see where you stand and then decide whether to press ahead with a claim.
Call us today for more help
You can do that today by taking our online test to find out more, or by calling Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500. Mobile users can call 0333 500 0993 instead. Self-employed workers need to protect themselves as much as they can, both physically and financially, to reduce the risk of being hurt and losing income. If you do have a chance to claim, we’ll take on your case on a no-win, no-fee basis, to ensure you’re not at any financial risk.
Date Published: October 11, 2013
Author: David Brown