What exactly constitutes ‘stress at work’?

In its simplest form, stress can actually be beneficial to us – with many people using stress to work and perform and their best.

stressed employeeHowever, if stress at work becomes too much and manifests itself as something more serious – such as a recognised psychiatric condition – it can become dangerous and lead to a potential personal injury claim.

The question is, when does stress at work become dangerous and form the basis of a stress at work compensation claim?

The first thing to determine is whether you have been diagnosed with a recognised psychiatric disorder, as you cannot make a claim simply by stating you suffer from “stress”. Common disorders that can arise from stress include depression, PTSD or generalised anxiety disorder.

It can sometimes be the case that a sufferer has been to their GP because of work-related stress, and are not then aware that they have actually been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. In such cases we can assist by getting copies of their medical records.

Another potential barrier to making a claim is whether the psychiatric condition was forseeable, and whether the employer took reasonable steps to prevent it. For instance, an employer could reasonably be expected to take action is the employee had:

  • Previously taken time off work due to work-related stress
  • Disclosed to the employer that they had mental health difficulties
  • Complained to their line manager that they were ill (as opposed to just ‘stressed’)


The lesson here is, if you are struggling to cope with the levels of stress at work then it is important to raise the issue with your employer.

Once that has been established, it is then necessary to demonstrate that the employer has failed in their duty of care toward you. All employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect their employees – see our Health and Safety at work guide

Examples of how an employer could be breach of that duty could include:

  • Failing to refer the employee to occupational health
  • Failing to re-allocate work and/or responsibilities appropriately
  • Failing to adequately investigate complaints and carry out a risk assessment


If you feel that the above applies to you and would like to learn more about making a No Win No Fee compensation claim for work-related stress, get in touch with our expert industrial disease lawyers today using the options below…

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