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Dealing with stress in the workplace

Published 25 April 2016

The number of workers suffering from work-related stress remains a growing concern for employers. It is thought many factors such as job cuts, financial worries, poor management and bullying are to blame.

In 2014/15 figures show 444,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress that was making them ill, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

Recent reports also said the illness was responsible for a total of 30m days of absence from the workplace and a loss of more than £2bn to the British economy.

Police forces across the country have also been hard hit. New figures reveal the number of staff off sick with mental health problems has increased by a third. Last year 6,129 workers took long-term sick leave for psychological reasons – up from 4,544 in 2010.

Employers are being proactive in tackling the problem.

MPs and peers have reportedly been taking advantage of mediation classes to help them cope with the pressures of Westminster life. And a Liverpool accountancy firm is instilling codes of practice to help its staff deal with the pressures of everyday working life.

All employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing.

Acas state that demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers should not just be seen as a legal duty – there is a clear business case, too.   It can be a key factor in building trust and reinforcing your commitment to your employees, and can help improve staff retention, boost productivity and pave the way for greater employee engagement.

Employees affected by work-related stress can bring a range of claims. If the incapacity leads to an employee being dismissed the worker could lodge a claim for unfair dismissal; if the illness is prolonged it can lead to depression, which can be considered a disability under the Equality Act; or they can make a personal injury negligence claim for breach of duty of care.

The HSE believes good management practices can help reduce work-related stress. It offers a management standards approach to help employers take sensible and practical steps to minimise stress in the workplace.

NOTE

HSE stress publications can be found at

http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/information.htm

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