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Work-Related Stress Claims – What Employers Need to be Doing

Date Added 27.02.24

All jobs carry some level of pressure, no matter what industry you are in but the distinction between working under pressure and stress is a fine line for some. As an employer, you may feel that minimising stress in the workplace is not a priority, however, this can be a huge oversight. According to Statista, in 2023, 875,000 workers reported experiencing work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with the Health and Safety Executive reporting just over 17 million working days are lost for the same reasons. These lost days will have cost employers millions, which could have been prevented or minimalised by having the correct guidelines and measures in place. Furthermore, this does not even include the additional lump sum that could be paid out in claims related to stress, sometimes reaching as high as £100,000. Therefore, it is incredibly important for employers to minimise stress in the workplace.

Read further to find out the intricacies surrounding work-related stress claims, how you can prevent them and how Tollers can help.

Defining Stress

The Health and Safety Executive defines stress as the “adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them” at work. Stress is not considered to be an illness itself, however,  it can lead to mental or physical illness. Likely physical and mental conditions that can result from stress include but are not limited to anxiety or depression, heart disease, back pain, digestive conditions and skin conditions.

Legislations that protect employees from work-related stress

Stress from work can be said to be directly related to two main articles of health and safety law and loosely related to The Working Time Regulations 1998:

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974:

This places a ‘duty of care or responsibility’ on employers to ensure the well-being of their employees by safeguarding them from the risk of stress at work

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:

This mandates that all employers must conduct a thorough and adequate assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees while at work.

Working Time Regulations 1998:

Working long hours without taking regular breaks can be a prerequisite of work-related stress.

Essentially what this entails is that the employers must identify any risks to employee health and well-being (carrying out risk assessments for example) and then take actions to avert or minimise work-related stress. Failure to adhere to these legislations could result in claims being made against your business.

Preventing Work-Related Stress Claims

Preventing work-related stress claims much like other activities should begin before the employee feels stressed. Creating a positive working environment can minimise the chance of your employees feeling stress related to work. To achieve this, as employers you can:

  • Encourage workers and staff to raise and voice their troubles;
  • Training senior members of staff and managers in dealing with stressed employees;
  • Promote a work-life balance (using annual leave and breaks);
  • Clear and encompassing policy on mental health, stress and employee well-being;
  • Address and map out the causes of work-related stress through risk assessments and employee feedback questionnaires;
  • Support for staff and employees;
  • Providing training for employees to better handle different situations such as time management courses or stress management techniques.

Preventing stress: Risk assessments

As an employer, you can carry out risk assessments to protect the employees from stress at work. Only when you have 5 or more employees must a written risk assessment be done; however, it is good practice to do this regardless of the number of employees. By doing so you will have on record of what was said and the actions taken, as well as being perceived by employees as taking their health and wellbeing seriously. According to ACAS (The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) an employer, when concerning a risk assessment, should work with the employees to:

  • Identify the risks of stress;
  • Decide how to remove or reduce the risks;
  • Agree on what steps to take;
  • Make any changes to avoid or reduce risks;
  • Regularly review the plan.

Risk assessments should be done for the whole team or by job type regularly. Additionally, individual risk assessments should be conducted if an employee tells their employer they are experiencing work-related stress.

Talk to Tollers

If you would like any help or advice on managing work-related stress in your organisation, or on your policies … Talk to Tollers on 01604 258 558 and one of the team would be happy to advise.

Our team are here for you.

 

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