Stress at Work
What is stress at work?
Stress means different things to different people, but in general terms it can best be described as a reaction to excessive pressure at work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines occupational stress as: ‘The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them’. However, even excessive pressure doesn’t always lead to occupational stress – this can depend on the type of stress itself and the individual involved.
We at SSB specialise in complex claims involving stress as they can often be difficult to take forward because of the general principle that an employer is entitled to assume that an employee can cope with the normal pressures of work unless the employer is otherwise notified.
If you would like to talk about a stress at work claim, please get in touch with Jeremy Brooke or any of our specialist team. We'll provide free, no obligation initial advice session and remember - we're not a call centre or helpline - we're a real law company and we'll help you however we can.
What is the scale of the problem
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress and related conditions are the second most commonly reported group of work-related ill-health conditions after musculoskeletal disorders.
There has been a steadily growing number of stress related illness cases in recent years. Latest statistics confirm that work related stress is widespread in the UK working population and is not confined to particular sectors or high risk jobs or industries. It is a substantial cause of loss of productivity in the workplace and ill-health with the most recent estimates of 13.5 million working days lost in 2007. The highest incidence is in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups.
Stress at work is a complex and wide-ranging subject, touching on many aspects of employment and personal injury law. Our strength is being able to help you through each and every stage of the process.
What does a worker have to prove to make a successful stress at work claim?
An employee or worker must first prove that they have a psychiatric illness or injury unless the case involves harassment and bullying. Then they must show:
- That their employer breached their duty of care.
- That their work posed a real risk of causing psychiatric illness and the employer knew (or ought to have known) that the employee was exposed to that risk
- That their employer knew that the difficulties they faced were so severe as to create a risk of an imminent psychiatric illness. In order to prove this "foreseeability", claimants often have to produce a report from a doctor or prove that they have been off work before due to a similar illness.
- That their employer failed in their duty of care towards them. This involves showing that the employer did not do everything that was reasonable in the circumstances to keep the worker safe from harm. This includes the court looking at how the employer dealt with any risks.
In addition to the above, stress claims have to be considered in relation to the criteria set down in the court of appeal judgement in February 2002 which overturned three previously successful work-related stress cases. The criteria in that specific judgement are the benchmarks upon which solicitors will measure the prospects of any claim.