The Mental Health Foundation has recorded that a whopping 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed in the last year that they have been unable to cope. Millions of people in the UK are experiencing high levels of stress, resulting in damaged health and making it one of the great public health challenges of our time.
Despite work-related stress being one of the great public health challenges of our time, it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health issues. More needs to be done to promote wellbeing in the workplace, and with it being stress awareness week, it is a perfect opportunity to discuss how.
There are lots of guides and useful websites on how to reduce work-related stress, but as lawyers representing clients who have suffered with their mental health as a result of work-related stress, whether that be through being bullied or overworked, we can share our observations based upon real-life examples.
You must tell your manager or HR if you feel you are becoming ill through work-related stress; please do not suffer in silence. With the exception of certain harassment cases, the law states that in order for the employer’s duty of care to prevent psychiatric harm to its employees, such harm needs to be foreseeable. Speaking up, therefore has two benefits:
- It will give the employer an opportunity to do something positive to alleviate the employees stress to prevent illness.
- It puts the employer on notice of the decline in the employee’s health to engage its duty of care to prevent such illness. If the employer then breaches that duty of care and illness follows as a result, a claim for compensation may be viable.
The law requires every employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of its employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work.
I would encourage all employers to make use of the excellent resources on the HSE website when it comes to identifying and managing the risks of stress to help comply with their legal obligations.
All roles should be risk assessed but particularly so in the following circumstances:
- When an employee reports to you that their health is suffering due to their workload or the type of work they are doing;
- And when an employee reports another employee is bullying them.
Once the cause of stress has been identified, the employer should then take all reasonably practicable measures to alleviate the stress.
Failure to accept work-related stress as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time will come at a high price. Employers will suffer from lost productivity and otherwise avoidable litigation. Employees will arguably bear the greatest price; with their mental health. We all have a part to play, and the time for action is now.
If you feel that you are suffering from work-related stress, take our one-minute survey to see if you should consider making a claim against your employer.
Please note that these guides are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. You can contact one of our expert consultant lawyers using the form below.
David is an occupational stress and psychiatric injury specialist.
David is one of the few specialists in the country whose practice is solely made up of work related stress claims. His expertise covers:
- Stress at work claims
- Bullying & harassment claims
- Violence at work claims
- Sexual harassment