Can You Be Fired For Being Sick Or Injured On Probation?

By Lewis Winehouse. Last Updated 19th May 2023. If you have been injured in an accident at work while still in your probationary period, you may be worried about your rights. This guide shall explain what action you could take if you have an accident during your probationary period at work and suffer an injury through no fault of your own. 

Within the sections below you’ll find useful information about your rights as a probationary employee, the responsibility your employer has towards your health and safety at work, and what action you could take if you are injured at work during your probationary period. You will also find guidance on potential compensation payouts, as well as information on how to get an eligibility check for your specific situation to see if you could claim compensation. 

If you need any further information on anything contained in the guide below, please do not hesitate to call our helpline on 0161 696 9685.

Accident at work during probationary period

Accident at work during probationary period

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Can I Make A Claim If Sacked On Probation?

You could still make an accident at work claim even after being sacked while on probation. However, you will need to prove that you suffered your injury while at work due to your employer breaching their duty of care.

All employers owe a duty of care to their employees. This duty is set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Per their duty of care, they must take reasonable steps to ensure your safety whilst in the workplace and performing work-related tasks. Failure to do so could result in you being injured in an accident at work.

Collecting sufficient evidence could help support your claim. It could help with proving liability and the injuries you suffered. Some examples of the evidence you could use in your claim include:

  • A copy of the report in the accident book. This could provide details on when and how the accident happened.
  • A copy of your medical records stating the injuries you suffered and the treatment you required.
  • The contact details of any witnesses to the accident so that they can provide a statement at a later date.
  • Video footage of the accident, such as from CCTV.

If you decide to work with a solicitor for your claim, they could help you with gathering evidence.

Personal Injury Claims Time Limit

If you are eligible to make a personal injury claim, you must start the proceedings within the correct time limit. Generally, this is three years from the date of the accident that resulted in your injuries.

However, for certain claimants, there are exceptions to the time limit. These include:

  • Those who lack the mental capacity to make a claim themself. For these claimants, the time limit is indefinitely suspended. During this suspension, a court-appointed litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf. However, should they regain the capacity to claim themself, they will have three years from the date of recovery to start a claim if one has not already been made.
  • Those under the age of 18 at the time of the accident. For these parties, the time limit is paused until they turn 18. Prior to this, a litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf. However, if they reach their 18th birthday and a claim has not been made for them, they will have three years to start one.

Contact our advisors today to discuss your potential claim and receive free advice. They could also help answer any questions you may have, such as “Can I still make a claim after being fired for being sick on probation?”

What Are Workplace Probationary Periods?

A workplace probationary period is, in essence, somewhat of a safety net for an employer. It is a period of time for the employer to assess the employee’s suitability for the role so that they can ensure they have taken on someone who can do the job in question. It is usually mutually agreed prior to a job being offered to a prospective employee. A probation period could be beneficial for an employee too. If they felt that the job wasn’t suitable for them before the end of the probation period, they could potentially walk away from the role without having committed to giving a lengthy notice period.

When Are Probationary Periods Used?

Probationary periods are usually used when taking on a new employee, but employers could also consider using them when they are considering a job swap or promotion for an employee. Usually, if an employee was given a probationary period for a promotion or transfer within the company, they would not have the right to have their old job back should the probationary period not result in them being appointed to the new role.

What Counts As A Workplace Accident Or Injury?

All employees have the right to be kept as safe as could be considered reasonably possible while they are at work. Employers have a legal duty to protect the safety and health of their employees, whether they are on their probationary period or not.

Some of how they could do so could include:

  • Risk assessing the workplace and the tasks that an employee would be required to undertake
  • Highlighting the risks and taking measures to protect employees, such as:
  • Providing safety training
  • Providing protective equipment
  • Ensuring the workplace was free of removable hazards
  • Allowing regular breaks from repetitive work
  • Ensuring all equipment is checked and maintained so it’s fit for use

This could help to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. If your employer fails to take care of your health and safety to a reasonable level and you are injured in an accident during your probationary period, your employer could be held liable and you could claim compensation for your injuries.

Your Rights If You Suffer An Injury At Work

Following an accident at work whilst on probation, you might be interested in knowing your injury at work rights. Whether or not you are on probation does not take away your rights as an employee.

Below we have featured some rights that may apply to your situation if you have been injured in an accident at work during probation:

  • Although you are in your probation period, if you need time off work due to an injury or illness, you have the right to ask about any sick pay schemes. Additionally, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
  • Should you need to go to a medical appointment for treatment or a check-up, you are well within your right to do so.
  • You may have the right to claim against your employer if you were injured due to their negligence.

Get in touch for free legal advice following a work-related injury or about employee rights during probation periods at work.

When Dismissal During A Probationary Period Is Unfair

You may be worried about your employment rights during a probationary period if you have been injured in the workplace and are considering making a claim.

It may be of interest for you to know that if an act of discrimination against you leads to you being dismissed, even as a probationary employee, you could claim unfair dismissal. Your employer would be deemed to have acted unfairly if they fired you because of your:

  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Age

In addition to this, your employer would not be allowed to dismiss you if you brought a claim against them. As long as the claim you are making is a valid one, and you have been honest in your version of events, an employer can not take disciplinary action against you for pursuing your legal right to claim compensation for employer negligence. If they were to attempt to do so, alongside your claim for personal injury, you could also take legal action against them for unfair dismissal.

When Employers Can Dismiss You During Probationary Periods

If you were injured in an accident during your probationary period, you may be worried about claiming in case your employer dismisses you. While there are many reasons an employer could dismiss a worker during their probation period, making a claim for compensation for a workplace accident where the employer could be held liable would not be one of them.

The reasons an employer could consider dismissing a worker before the probationary period is completed could include:

  • The staff member not having the correct skills to perform the work required
  • Gross misconduct
  • Persistent lateness
  • Extended absences due to sickness

Can You Be Fired For Being Sick On Probation?

So, can you be fired for being sick on probation?

If an employee is taking time off to recover from a non-work-related illness or injury, it could be possible for an employer to dismiss them during the probationary period. An assessment should be conducted to ensure that the injury or illness is not work-related before such dismissal could take place.

An employer should, however, consider making reasonable adjustments to a workplace/job if the person is classed as disabled to help them return to work. These adjustments could include:

  • Allowing the employee to take breaks regularly
  • Offering places to park closer to the workplace
  • Reorganising job roles
  • Providing equipment
  • Allowing flexible working practices

According to ACAS, even probationary employees should be entitled to one week’s statutory notice if they have been employed for over a month and up to 2 years. Although it is not a requirement to provide notice to probationary employees that have been employed for less than a month, it is considered good practice for employers to do so.

Calculating Compensation For A Work Accident During Your Probationary Period

If you have been injured during your probationary period in an accident at work that was not your fault, you may be wondering what level of compensation you could be looking to receive for your injury. You may even be looking for a personal injury claims calculator to give you this information. It would be prudent for us to mention, however, that any figures given by a claims calculator would only be approximate, as your claim would only be given a value once all the medical evidence had been collected and assessed. Anyone looking to make a personal injury claim for an accident at work during a probation period would be required to see an independent medical expert for such medical evidence to be put together.

To give you some idea of the amounts of compensation that could be appropriate for specific workplace injuries, we’ve put together a table with guideline payout amounts provided by the Judicial College. These guidelines are devised by examining the compensation awards made by the courts for different injuries. We could not cover every injury in the workplace you could suffer, but if you don’t see your injury in the table below, we could offer you some further insight into guideline payouts for injuries over the phone.

InjuryGuideline Payout BracketNotes
Serious hand injuries£29,000 to £61,910The hand would only likely retain around 50% of its original use. This could include amputation of several fingers.
Loss of sight in one eye£49,270 to £54,830Complete, with some sympathetic opthalmia.
Moderate leg injuries£27,760 to £39,200Fractures (multiple/complex) or crush injuries could be included here. The employment impact, any residual symptoms, loss of function or degenerative changes would be assessed to calculate claims in this bracket.
Severe finger fracturesUp to £36,740Leading to potential amputation and grip deformity, reduced function and sensation disturbances.
Toe injuries - amputation£29,380 The claimant's big toe has been amputated.
Severe toe injuries£13,740 to £21,070Crush injuries that are severe enough to warrant the amputation of one or two of the toes, not including the great toe.
Significant scarring (face)£9,110 to £30,090Worst effects would have been reduced via plastic surgery. Psychological reaction would not be severe.
Scarring (non facial)£7,830 to £22,730A number of noticeable scars or one single scar that is disfiguring to the arms, hands, legs, back or chest
Serious Shoulder Injuries£12,770 to £19,200Injuries to the brachial plexus and shoulder dislocation. Sensory symptoms could present in the hand and forearm, and grip may be weakened. Soft tissue injuries with permanent intrusive symptoms could fall into this bracket.
Head injury (minor)£2,210 to £12,770Cases would be calculated based on how severe the injury was, whether headaches are a consequence, how long the symptoms last, and more.

Special Damages Which You Could Claim If Injured At Work?

As well as being compensated for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity experienced because of your injuries, it’s also possible to claim for any financial losses or expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. Such costs may include: :

  • Care costs – If you required care at home or help with day to day tasks such as dressing, washing, or cooking, these costs could be included as part of an injury at work claim
  • Medical expenses – Costs ranging from prescription fees to private physiotherapy could also form part of your claim
  • Travel expenses – If you have needed to pay for transport to medical appointments, for example, you could include these within your claim.
  • Income losses -If your injury in the workplace saw you lose out on wages, for example, because you are put on Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to claim for these losses.

No Win No Fee Claims For A Work Accident During Your Probationary Period

A dismissal during your probation period does not stop your ability to begin a personal injury claim. However, you will need to prove that you suffered your injuries whilst at work due to your employer breaching their duty of care.

Our advisors could inform you whether you may have a valid case. If they believe you could, they may connect you with one of the solicitors on our panel. One of them may offer to represent your claim on a No Win No Fee basis with a Conditional Fee Agreement.

When working with a solicitor under this arrangement, you won’t be expected to pay any upfront or ongoing fees for their services. Additionally, if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay them for the work they have done on your case.

Alternatively, you will pay your solicitor a success fee if they succeed with your claim. This success fee is a legally capped percentage deducted from your compensation award.

To learn more about making a personal injury claim despite being sacked during your probation period, you can contact our advisors. Our friendly team is available 24/7 to help answer any questions and offer free advice.

Contact our advisors by:

Probationary Employee Resources

West Of England Combined Authority Resource – This information pack was created in partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions and offers advice on probationary periods.

Do You Qualify For SSP? – If you’re wondering whether you could be eligible to claim SSP if you are off work, then this resource may help.

Workers Health And Safety – This HSE resource has links to a number of useful pieces of information regarding workers health and safety.


Guide by JS

Edited by REG