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27 October 2004

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Stress in the workplace


A recent Court of Appeal ruling on a damages claim for job related stress has been heralded as good news for employers. The decision overruled three damages awards totalling almost £200,000, and set down new guidelines for employers on the management and identification of stress in the workplace.

The key point made by the Court was that it was up to the employee to make the complaint about stressful working conditions, and bring it to the attention of the employer. The Court also decided that if an employer offers a confidential counselling service, they are unlikely to be found in breach of their duty of care towards their employees.

It is thought that the decision could drastically reduce the number of claims for stress made by employees.

This doesn’t mean however that all employers have to do is set up a help line. Stress is clearly a factor in today’s workplace, and a caring and responsible employer should recognise the dangers it can cause to their employees and their business.

Employers should look at tackling stress in a number of ways, which could include:

  • Drafting a stress policy, which sets out how employees should register their concerns and how investigations will take place

  • Devising methods of monitoring stress levels within the workforce

  • Carrying out risk assessments where necessary

Stress will be the theme of this Year’s European Week of Health and Safety, which clearly shows how important an issue it is for all businesses.

February 2002

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This article is an employment law e-ssentials bulletin produced by Hegarty & Co

You can subscribe free of charge to the email bulletins at: www.e-ssentials.co.uk

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