Stress at Work

Most people feel that well organised and fulfilling work helps to promote health and self-esteem as well as paying the bills. But when an employer pays insufficient attention to job support resources or tolerates bullying and harassment, this can lead to work related stress and illness or injury can often be an inevitable result.

Serious illnesses can be caused when the expected performance levels of a job exceed a person’s capacity and capability to reasonably fulfil that expectation. Bullying or harassment at work can also be stressful, intimidating and can seriously affect your health and mental well-being.

There may be instances where staff are put under intolerable strain due to poor planning or inadequate resource allocation by senior management. You may be given a task or project fraught with difficulties and problems, which despite your best efforts and the issues you’ve identified to management, still does not receive the support, investment or resources you consider necessary to carry it out.

More about stress at work

People who experience extreme levels of stress at work are far more likely to suffer from poor health and mental illness. A report published in 2014 by the country’s most senior doctor, Professor Dame Sally Davies, suggested that working days lost to stress related illness had increased by 24% since 2009, while the number lost due to serious mental illness had doubled.

Other research indicates that people are 60% more likely to develop illnesses such as asthma as a result of stress at work. The scientific evidence is now irrefutable that increased levels of workplace stress can result in illness and in some cases, serious mental health problems.

Many calls have been made to improve funding for mental health treatment in the NHS overall, however there is a clear need to tackle the root causes of stress at work at source.
All employers (including senior board directors, HR managers and line managers) have a legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to minimise the risk of stress related illness or injury no matter what the cause.

In addition, employers also have a responsibility under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to prevent conduct which causes alarm or distress and amounts to the harassment of another. If an employer can be proved to have breached or neglected any of these duties, a successful claim for stress at work may be possible.