A PCS member has received compensation after she suffered a septic insect bite at work when her employers failed to keep her offices clean.

The tax credit advisor from Washington was forced to take four weeks off work after she was bitten by an unidentified insect whilst working for the HMRC at its offices at Waterview Park in Washington.

The bite initially looked similar to a regular bite but soon started to swell up. By the following day it was so bad the member’s entire leg was swollen and she was barely able to walk. She was unable to sit down and couldn’t touch her leg.

She was told by her GP that the bite was septic and she needed four courses of antibiotics before it cleared up.

Bite left large black scar

She has been left with a black scar the size of a 10p piece.

The member’s office is next to Washington Wetland Centre, a popular bird watching spot, which means insects from the park often come into the offices through open windows.

The PCS member contacted her trade union when she returned from work as she was concerned about the extended period of time she was absent. The union instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

The HMRC admitted liability for the bite and settled the claim out of court for £4,000.

Offices are now fumigated more often

The member said: “I had never had time off sick in seven years of working for the HMRC so I felt worried about how it would reflect on me. I couldn’t believe that something as small as an insect bite could make me so ill for so long. I had never had a bad reaction to a bite before, it was frightening.

“Since the bite our offices are fumigated more often and fortunately I’ve not yet been bitten again.”

Peter Lockhart, PCS national officer for HMRC, said: “Insect bites are a common problem at this workplace, which is located next to a wetland, but this member’s reaction to the bite was extreme meaning she was very ill. Her reaction shows her employers the importance of doing everything they can to prevent this from happening to other members of staff.”

Rachel Leach from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Employers have a responsibility to ensure that its employees are not at risk of infection. The location of this workplace means that they must have a clear and practical plan in place to make sure that the risk of bites and infection is kept to a minimum.”