Where someone sustains a severe injury, they will usually face a long period off work. Even when they are fit enough to start going back to work, they may need a phased return (gradually building up their hours) and they may be restricted in what they can do. In this situation, it is vital to know what your employment rights are.

At Moore Barlow our dedicated teams of Major trauma and Employment combine their expertise to guide you through this challenging time. Whether you’re seeking to negotiate reasonable adjustments, understand your entitlements such as statutory sick pay, or protect yourself against unfair dismissal or disability discrimination, we’re here to help. Naomi Greenwood, Partner in Employment, and Matthew Tuff, Legal director in Major trauma, explore key legal aspects of returning to work after an injury and offer insights on securing your employment rights.

Should I inform my employer about my serious injury?

If you have had a serious accident,  it is important that you or someone close to you make your employer aware of your accident.

If the accident actually happened at your work, make sure it is recorded. If your employer has ten or more employees there is a legal obligation for them to record the accident in an Accident book.

Am I eligible for statutory sick pay after an injury?

Your employment contract may specifically provide for you to receive sick pay (check what it says). Otherwise you would at least normally be entitled to statutory sick pay, as long as you are an employee, normally earn at least £123 per week on average and are off sick for more than three days. You can get £116.75 per week for up to 28 weeks.

Matthew Tuff

Matthew Tuff

Legal director | Major trauma, Personal injury

020 8334 0313

Naomi Greenwood

Naomi Greenwood

Partner | Employment

020 3274 1006

Matthew Tuff
Naomi Greenwood

Explore our Major trauma legal services

Explore our range of major trauma legal services. Meet the team and discover how we can help.

Find out more

What if an employer tries to dismiss me after an injury?

If your job security is threatened whilst you are recovering from an injury, you may have a claim against your employer(s) for unfair dismissal or disability discrimination. If you are dismissed because you have brought an injury claim against your employer, then this would be unlawful and you have legal protection. Whatever the case, your employer should carry out a fair procedure during post-injury employment in advance of any dismissal that would allow you the opportunity to discuss your prognosis and any adjustments they are legally obliged to make which may avoid the dismissal.

Can an employer refuse a phased return to work after an injury?

An employer should be guided by an employee’s fit note from their doctor as to whether reduced hours are necessary. Best practice would be to hold a return to work meeting to establish whether there are any risks to the individual of returning to their normal duties that would require adjustments to be made.

If the employee is disabled for discrimination law purposes because their impairment has substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out day to day activities, then their employer will have an obligation to consider what reasonable adjustments can be made. These adjustments could include allowing an employee a phased return to work, or making other changes or adaptations that would enable them to come back to the workplace.

What reasonable adjustments should employers make for injured workers?

An employer has a duty to consider workplace accommodations by way of reasonable adjustments. An employee should be asked for their suggestions, but it is not enough to rely on these. It is safest for an employer to explore medical advice and speak to healthcare and occupational health providers about what workplace modifications may be suitable. It should be noted though that employer responsibilities only extend as far as is reasonable and matters such as the financial cost or disruption caused will be relevant factors here, which will be fact sensitive to every case.

You might also be interested in…

Statutory employment law changes


How should employers handle a performance dip after an employee’s injury?

If the dip in post–injury work performance is temporary, then the employer should work with the employee and support them to gradually increase the productivity to where it was before commencing any performance management that could result in their dismissal. However, if the injured person is now considered disabled, it may be necessary for the employer to consider longer term adjustments to their productivity requirements or targets if this is sustainable for the business. That may attract a reduction in pay.

What rights injured candidates have during the recruitment process?

The Equality Act extends to protect from discrimination in recruitment. A disabled person is also entitled to have reasonable adjustments during their job search so that they do not face disproportionate recruitment challenges. But importantly, disability should not be a factor in the decision making for the role other than in exceptional cases where there is an occupational necessity that the person should not be disabled.

How Moore Barlow can help

Navigating the aftermath of a serious injury requires more than medical attention. At Moore Barlow, our specialised teams in Major trauma and Employment are uniquely positioned to provide this support. If you are facing uncertainties in your employment due to an injury, trust our experts to help you resolve your issues effectively.

Explore our Employment legal services

Explore our range of legal services for employment. Meet the team and discover how we can help.

Find out more