13. If I am not satisfied with the amount of compensation granted according to the ECO, or I think that my employer has wrongfully neglected the safety measures, then can I claim more?
Under section 26 of the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, the Ordinance shall not limit or in any way affect any civil liability of the employer, where the injury is caused to an employee by the negligence, breach of statutory duty or other wrongful act or omission of the employer, or of any person for whose act or default the employer is responsible. Put in another way, in the above circumstances, the relevant employees can start a civil claim against their employer under common law for damages (compensation), in addition to their right under the Ordinance.
As explained in the case of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd v Wong Sau Lai, employers are duty-bound at common law to take reasonable care for their employees' safety. This common law duty retains its importance despite the existence of a large body of work safety legislation.
The duty of care owed by employers to employees at common law is a single duty to take reasonable care for their employees' safety, including but not limited to the provision of the followings:
- a safe place of work, including a safe means of access;
- a safe system of work;
- safe equipment;
- safe and competent co-workers;
- proper instructions and supervision; and (where called for)
- adequate training.
You are strongly advised to consult your lawyers before taking any legal action.