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
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
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.