As an employee, you have the right to:
- complain about circumstances connected with your work which you reasonably believe to be harmful or potentially harmful to your health and safety
- leave, propose to leave or - while the danger persists - refuse to return to your place of work in circumstances of danger which you reasonably believe to be serious and imminent, and which you cannot reasonably be expected to avert
- take appropriate steps to protect yourself or others from danger which you reasonably believe to be serious and imminent.
Your employer should not subject you to any detriment (such as a written warning) for taking such action. If you are dismissed for exercising these rights, your dismissal may be automatically unfair.
If you have concerns relating to health and safety or are in any doubt about your position - and your employer's reaction to any of the above - you should contact ATL for advice, either locally through your branch secretary or directly via ATL's London office.
There is an implied term in your contract of employment that places an obligation on your employer to provide you with a healthy and safe working environment. Breaches of this obligation might include a failure to:
- take adequate or indeed any protective security measures
- take adequate steps to remedy a danger
- investigate a health and safety complaint
- investigate such a complaint promptly and sensibly
- treat an employee properly following a violent incident.
When employers break their fundamental obligations under the contract of employment, an employee can resign either immediately or by giving notice. The employee should state clearly and in writing that their employer's conduct has been so unreasonable that they are entitled to leave.
The employer has not given notice to the employee so they are not formally dismissed. However, the employee can argue that the actions of the employer are such that it became impossible to remain in post. In other words they have been "constructively" dismissed.
If the employee delays the resignation, they are seen to have accepted the employer's conduct and to have waived the breach of contract. A claim to the employment tribunal must be lodged within three months of the date of dismissal.
In order to claim constructive dismissal you have to resign and leave your employment. This is an extremely serious step to take and you must seek ATL's advice before walking away from your job. If you are to succeed with a claim for constructive dismissal then you will have to show that your employer's conduct was so intolerable that it amounts to a repudiation of contract.
Your entitlement to sick pay should be set out in your contract of employment or statement of terms and conditions. Teachers in maintained schools who are absent from work as a result of an assault suffered at school in the course of their employment are entitled to full sick pay from the day of the assault up to the date of recovery, for a period not exceeding six months (Burgundy Book regulations).
Support staff benefit from similar provisions in the National Joint Council for Local Government Services' National Agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service (Green Book). You should contact your employer for details of the scheme that applies to you.
Teachers in independent schools may have sick pay entitlements that equate to the provisions set out in the Burgundy Book. However, you should check your contract or statement of employment particulars for your entitlement.
If you are disabled as a result of an industrial accident you may be entitled to claim industrial injuries disablement benefit (IIDB). This is a non-contributory, non-means tested and non-taxable benefit.
Your disablement must have lasted for two months from the date of the accident for you to be able to claim. Your local DWP office (find it on the GOV website) can provide you with a claim form. You may be asked about your background and be required to submit any official documents that you have in support of your claim.
Teachers in maintained schools have the benefit of their employers' insurance under section 8 and appendix V of the Burgundy Book. Substantial compensation is payable, but only in the event of death or permanent total or partial disablement arising from an assault.
Provided that their contract incorporates the Green Book, support staff in maintained schools have similar benefits in part 3, section 7. Payments are made in the event of death or permanent disablement arising from a violent or criminal assault suffered in the course, or as a consequence, of their employment.
Staff in independent schools may have equivalent benefits incorporated in their contracts or statements.
ATL members receive insurance cover and protection, including personal accident cover, see the 'insurance protection' page of this website for full details.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) makes financial awards to compensate individuals, including for physical and mental injuries caused by violent crime.
There are three possible types of CICA award:
- a tariff award, based on the type of injury you have suffered
- compensation for loss of earnings
- special expenses compensation.
The maximum total payment for all three types of compensation added together is £500,000. Compensation for loss of earnings, if awarded, will not be paid for the first 28 weeks of loss. Some special expenses are also payable, for example the cost of care provided at a residential establishment or at home and any changes to your home required as a result of your injury.
Making an application to CICA
Your application will be considered only if it is received on the prescribed CICA form within two years of the incident causing injury. Your application will be considered if you:
- have been physically or mentally injured (or both) as a direct result of a violent crime, or some other incident covered by the scheme
- were in Great Britain when you were injured
- have been injured seriously enough to qualify for at least the minimum award (currently £1,000) under the scheme.
Your application will not be considered if:
- you suffered your injury before 1 August 1964
- you have already made a claim for compensation for the same injury under the 2001 (or an earlier) scheme
- the injury took place before 1 October 1979 and you were living with a person who injured you as a member of the same family.
There are circumstances in which an award may be withheld or reduced, for example:
- if you fail to cooperate with the police in bringing the offender to justice (see below)
- if you fail to cooperate with CICA in relation to your application
- if your action caused or significantly contributed to the incident when the injury took place.
CICA has a general rule that any incident around which a claim is being made should be reported to the police.
If you are considering making a CICA claim, contact Morrish Solicitors, ATL's appointed solicitors, on 0800 083 7285 or online at www.atlinjuryclaims.org.uk.