Stress at Work

Work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors or high risk jobs or industries.

Typical causes of stress can include ...

  • Poor communication between colleagues;
  • Skills not matching those that are needed for the job;
  • Demands of work exceeding the employee’s ability to cope.

Stress is a state rather than an illness, but when it becomes excessive or goes on for too long, it can cause mental and physical illness, sometimes culminating in a disability.

Work related stress falls under health and safety legislation, so you have a duty as an employer to ensure you deal with any situations raised by an employee who believes they’re suffering from work-related stress.

Tackling Work Related Stress

The way you tackle it depends on the kind of stress your employee is suffering from. For instance, if they’re not sure of their role at work, you should make time to clarify what’s expected of them. Additionally, if they feel they don't have enough control over their work, you should consider giving them more decision making rights.

Stress may also be caused by bullying in the workplace. If the bullying is classed as sexual, religious or racial harassment, or is linked to your employee’s age or disability, they may have claims under the Equality Act. Also, if they have a disability which makes it harder for them to deal with, or more prone to suffering stress (e.g. depression), you have a duty to make adjustments to help them.

You may consider that it is the employee's own actions or inaction that have contributed to his or her stress.  In these cases you may start a capability and performance improvement plan, which in turn may add to the the employee's stress.  Even if you have legitimate concerns about an employee's work performance you should still treat the employee with dignity and respect, even more so if it is arguably making the employee ill. 

Your employee may raise a grievance relating to what they believe is causing their stress, and if the issue can’t be resolved through the grievance procedure, your employee may reach the point where their view is that their position has become untenable. Therefore, this gives them a potential claim for constructive dismissal if they consequently leave their job.

If you would like more detailed information about stress in the workplace, Ashby Cohen can help.  We specialise in employment law cases, and our years of experience as employment lawyers make us especially qualified to assist you with any stress in the workplace issues you may have.

Please get in touch with us today for your initial free telephone consultation.