UNISON has secured a huge £29m in compensation for members and members’ families this year, settling just under 2,000 claims between November 2021 and November 2022. This is an increase on the £27m won on behalf of members last year.
The vast majority of these cases were work-related personal injury claims, involving accidents and injuries such as assaults at work, manual handling claims, trips and falls and needlestick injuries.
Legal officer Helen Buczynsky, who coordinates the union’s external personal injury legal service, says: “Everyone should be able to do their job safely, without risk of injury. If a UNISON member suffers harm at work, our lawyers are by their side every step of the way, giving them specialist support to seek the compensation they’re entitled to”.
Pursuing legal claims is a key part of the union’s strategy to create safer working conditions for all public sector workers.
Ms Buczynsky said: “When our members pursue a legal claim, they hold negligent employers to account and this often results in wider workplace change afterwards, making workplaces safer for everyone. The threat of legal claims is one of the most effective ways to make employers listen and make changes.”
A UNISON survey has found 65% of members who pursued a personal injury claim saw improvements made to their workplaces as a result.
The union’s lawyers provide support to thousands of members through the union’s extensive legal assistance scheme. This year, the union also supported many members with work related disease cases, members who again suffered injury through no fault of their own including work-related stress and bullying claims, upper limb disorder cases and asbestos-related claims.
This legal support from UNISON is completely free, whether cases are won or lost. This also means that, if members are successful in their claim, they keep 100% of their damages.
On top of personal injury claims, UNISON’s legal scheme supports members with a range of legal issues, from defending themselves against work-related criminal allegations to helping members and their families with requests for wills.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Workers should never have to suffer workplace injuries. But when things do go wrong, UNISON is on their side, making sure they get the compensation they deserve.
“Every year we win millions of pounds for our members, but we also continue to campaign for safer working conditions to protect our members from harm.”