Stress at work compensation claims
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Work related stress is a serious and potentially debilitating condition that should be dealt with the same as any other work-related illness or industrial disease.
We most associate industrial disease cases with injuries suffered as a result of unsafe working conditions, or due to exposure to hazardous materials or loud noises (e.g. industrial deafness).
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures state that over 1 million UK workers are affected by some form of work-related illness or injury every year, with over 13,000 new cases of work-related illness reported each year. In addition to that, an estimated 800,000 ex-workers are still affected by an illness that was either caused or made worse by their previous job, e.g. those suffering from an asbestos-related illness.
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Work-related stress compensation
The Health and Safety Executive’s statistics also show that in 2014/15 a total of 440,000 workers in the UK reported they were suffering from stress caused by work at levels that was making them ill – that amounts to 40% of all reported work-related illnesses.
Psychological issues, which includes stress as well as depression and anxiety, are the reason for one in five of every visit to a GP in the UK, which demonstrates the severity of the problem.
Having some pressure at work can be a motivating factor and help improve performance and job satisfaction, but when that pressure becomes excessive and begins to have a detrimental effect on the employee then it can eventually lead to work-related stress. According to the HSE’s definition, stress is: “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them”.
Symptoms of stress can include palpitations, headaches, dry mouth, odd aches and pains and a loss of appetite for food and sex.
Legal requirements for employers
If an employee has a condition such as depression, whether it has been caused by stress at work or not, then the employer may be obligate to make reasonable changes at work to accommodate the condition. Depending on the specific circumstances these adjustments could include:
- reducing working hours
- reallocation of excessive work
- providing extra supervision or support
- offering confidential counselling
It is particularly important for employers to consider making these adjustments if it means the employee would be in a position to then return to work.
If an employer fails to take reasonable steps to help their employee manage the effects of stress then they risk the onset of stress at work compensation claims being made against them.
To avoid this, employers must demonstrate they have considered the potential impact of stress on their employees – which could be in the form of:
- Carrying out a stress at work audit/risk assessment and giving employees an opportunity to list their concerns in respect of stress at work
- Offering return to work interviews after any sickness absence and at performance reviews in order to identify any underlying stress-related reason for continued absence or poor performance levels
- Providing training to managers so they can recognise situations that are likely to cause undue stress in the work environment
- Creating a stress at work policy that makes it clear to all that stress at work is an issue that the employer takes seriously, and provides guidance to employees on how they can deal with the effects of stress at work, and how to raise any concerns they have with management
- Creating a stress and anti-bullying and harassment at work policy which makes clear that bullying at work can be a significant cause of stress and to emphasise that confidentiality is considered very important for anyone wishing to report bullying in the workplace
Make a work-related stress compensation claim
Employers have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This comes under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They’re also required to conduct risk assessments for work-related stress.
If your employer has failed to act appropriately with regards to your condition, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. To learn more about how CL Legal can help you, get in touch now using the options below…
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