Workplace harassment, violence and abuse is a growing concern for both employers and employees in the UK. The workplace is a space where everyone should feel safe and protected, and employers have a duty of care to provide a safe environment for their staff. To reduce the chances of employees being assaulted at work, staff and management need to be sufficiently trained to respond appropriately to the law. If an employer breaches their duty of care, and you find yourself in a situation where you are assaulted at work by a colleague, customer or patient, your employer may be liable for compensation.
What is assault in the workplace?
If you have been subjected to an assault at work in the UK, it is important that you understand how assault is defined and how it may affect your claim.
Assault is when a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful harm. Assault can also take the form of mental or verbal abuse and covers all unwanted conduct that has the purpose of violating another persons dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment.
Assault at work can result in physical injury such as cuts, bruises, concussion and broken bones, and can also cause mental suffering in the form of anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
I was assaulted at work, what are my rights (UK)?
Employees assaulted at work by management, customers, patients or colleagues may be entitled to compensation.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the UK body responsible for governing health and safety in the workplace. According to the HSE, your employer is legally obliged to take reasonable steps to protect you from harm.
Employer’s have a duty of care to look after their employees’ health and safety, taking steps to reduce the chances of an assault at work. These steps include making sure that any risks to employee health and safety are removed or reduced as far as reasonably possible. If an employee is injured at work due to another person’s negligence, the employer may be liable for damages suffered by that employee.
The duty of care does not just rest with employers however; it also lies with workers themselves, who have a responsibility for their own wellbeing while at work, even if they’re not directly responsible for removing any risks from the workplace. Employees should be aware of areas where there might be particular hazards and an increased risk of being assaulted at work. Employees should take extra precautions around them until those risks can reasonably be eliminated by management action or personal protective equipment. It’s also important for employees to report instances of assault when they occur so other staff members can avoid similar situations in future.
What should I do if I suffer an assault at work (UK)?
The first and most important thing to do in the case of an assault at work is to find safety. If you’ve been assaulted at work and aren’t injured, the next thing to do is get away from your attacker as soon as possible. If you can, leave the area where you were attacked and go somewhere safe, call someone for help, such as a co-worker or manager who can assist with getting an assailant out of the workplace, if possible. Be sure to get the appropriate treatment for your injuries if needed. If you wish to report the incident as a criminal offense contact the police:
- Report the incident to the authorities even if it seems minor. A police report will support your claim. You should also try to keep evidence of what happened: try taking photos with your phone, write down dates/times/locations where any incidents took place (including names/dates when possible); document any conversations that led up until now too.
- Contact a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible. Our team of expert personal injury solicitors can provide you with specialised advice and guidance for your specific incident. As experienced experts helping sufferers of assault at work in the UK, you can be sure we will work to ensure you receive the compensation and rehabilitation you deserve.
I was assaulted at work and they fired me, what should I do (UK)?
If your employer has unfairly dismissed you after an assault at work, you have a right to claim for unfair dismissal. This can apply if you were suspended or dismissed before the end of your employment contract because of the assault, either by the employer, a colleague or member of the public.
What compensation am I entitled to after being assaulted at work?
Victims of harassment or violent attacks at work may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical costs
- Loss of earnings
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
The amount you can claim depends on how an assault at work has impacted your life. Employers are liable for compensation in situations where they are (in some way) responsible for injury or harm caused to an employee. Such circumstances can include:
- The assault was perpetrated, assisted or foreseeable by the employer. In any case where an employer is responsible for an assault in the workplace, complicit in the assault or had the ability to take preventative measures against the assault, and failed to do so, they may be liable for damages incurred by the victim of the assault.
- An employer has failed to take action against violent or abusive behaviour in the past.
- An employer has wrongfully subjected employees to high-risk environments. This can include instructing employees to enter dangerous situations without correctly following health and safety measures.
For legal advice concerning an assault at work, contact Ross Aldridge Solicitors for compassionate and understanding legal advice today.
If you require any more information on what to do in the case of a personal injury, read more in our personal injury directory.