Work that has been well designed, managed and organised is something that can be good for us. Most people enjoy doing a job in which they feel that their contribution is valued and they make a difference. Work plays a large part in many of our lives, so it is important that we can do our jobs without feeling overly stressed. However, when work has been poorly designed, organised or managed, it can result in stressful situations. Work-related stress develops when an individual is unable to cope with the demands that their job is placing on them.
Stress might be something that many people talk about in an offhand manner, but in reality it is a serious condition which can have lasting ill effects on an individual’s health and wellbeing. Stress is known to be linked with high levels of absenteeism, high staff turnover and other issues such as more error-prone job performance.
You don’t have to be a high-flyer in order to suffer from stress. Stress can occur at any job level, and studies have shown that work-related stress is widespread and not simply confined to certain job sectors, industries or jobs. Stress is not good for employees and it is certainly not good for businesses. Research has shown that around 12.8 million working days were lost because of stress, anxiety and depression in the year 2004/05.
Work-related stress is not a particular illness, but it is known to contribute to ill health and other problems such as heart disease, gastrointestinal illnesses and back pain. The effects of stress are varied, but they can include changes in behaviour, poor timekeeping, erosion of self-confidence, relationship problems, excessive smoking or drinking, increased sickness absence, unusual tearfulness, aggression or irritability, and drug abuse.
Employers have a duty of care to their employees which includes ensuring that they assess and reduce the risks of work-related stress. Employers must be able to prove that they took reasonable steps to ensure that their employees did not suffer undue stress at work. If an employer is unable to prove this, a court may find that they have been negligent, and this could result in them having to pay compensation to their employees. The Health and Safety Executive have developed a management approach that is designed to eliminate the risk of work-related stress, and all employers should be aware of this information.
An employee who is suffering from work-related stress cannot be dismissed. If an employer were to take this step and fire the employee, they could face a claim for unfair dismissal.
To make a claim for work-related stress, you must be able to show that you have a medically recognised psychiatric injury or illness, that work posed a real risk of causing this psychiatric condition and that your employer should have known this, the employer failed to act to reduce the risk, and that the psychiatric condition was caused or materially contributed to by your work and the employer’s failure to tackle the issue.
Here at Accident Advice Helpline, we have a considerable amount of experience in helping individuals with their claims. We will be able to offer expert advice on your claim as well, so be sure to call us on 0800 689 0500, or from your mobile on 0333 500 0993, for help.