Coronavirus at work: Can I make a claim?

The Government is now advising that the UK should be ‘actively encouraged’ to return to work, if home working is not possible. This is just the start of the new ‘normal’ which will continue to shift and change, much like the virus and its global journey.

But what happens if you think you have contracted coronavirus at work?

The pandemic has given rise to infections in the workforce, that potentially could have been prevented had employers followed Government guidance and advice.

The invisible and potentially deadly virus can pass between loved ones, colleagues and strangers without any of the parties knowing.

If you are forced into returning to work without appropriate measures being taken you could be entitled to take action for compensation against your employer, or if you are self-employed, against the main contractor on the site where you are working.

What should my employer be doing?

Your employer has a legal duty to take reasonable care of your health and safety whilst you are at work. This includes exposure to coronavirus.

If this duty is breached, an employer may be found liable to compensate employees for personal injury and other financial losses which are proved to be caused by, or materially contributed to, that failure.

Examples of what an employer should be doing includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Risk Assessments - Your employer has a duty to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment so that they can identity any risks to the health and safety of their employees whilst they are at work.
  • Provision of Suitable PPE – Personal protective equipment should be made available and encouraged in high risk environments to prevent transmission of the disease.
  • Health & Safety Policies and Systems – Your employer will need to ensure they have policies and systems in place to protect the health and safety of their employees
  • Social Distancing – This will remain the ‘new normal’ as part of the government’s strategy on reducing the spread of the disease.

How can I bring a claim against my employer?

If your employer hasn’t followed government guidance and you have contracted coronavirus, you may be able to claim for compensation. To make a claim, you will need to prove that your employer is in breach of their duty to you and, as a result of this, you have suffered from coronavirus. 

You will also need to prove that you contracted coronavirus in the workplace as result of your employer’s breach of duty. The standard of proof here is the balance of probabilities, i.e. that it is more likely than not that you contracted the virus whilst at work.

If your employer cannot show and demonstrate that they have considered the risks carefully and taken sensible steps to mitigate those risks, then you are likely to have a claim against your employer and could receive compensation.

What damages could I receive?

You could receive damages for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity as a result of the symptoms you have suffered, plus compensation for any past and future losses for example in relation to earnings, care and domestic assistance.

What shall I do next?

Emsleys Solicitors’ experienced personal injury team can advise and support you throughout the process of making a claim for contracting coronavirus at work.

If you’d like to discuss a potential claim for you or a relative, please contact us for a confidential discussion by calling 0113 232 1030 or emailing

Natalie Mousavi

Written by

Natalie Mousavi

Personal Injury

Natalie has over 11 years' experience as a Solicitor in personal injury. She specialises in employer liability and public liability serious injury claims, including brain injury, spinal cord injury and amputation. Natalie is also an active member of APIL. Natalie has advised on and successfully concluded, whether...

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