One of the most common forms of work-related illnesses in the UK at the moment is stress. When stress at work isn’t controlled, both the person and the company feel the negative effects. As we spend a lot of time at work, it really does have an impact on our well-being.
An employer has a responsibility to consider the impact of stress in the workplace. It is a legal requirement for an employer to complete risk assessments in order to keep stress-related illnesses to a minimum.
What causes workplace stress?
The following components have been identified by the HSE as the main causes of work stress:
- High workload
- Role uncertainty
- Lack of control over work practices
- Lack of Support
- Poorly managed change
- Bullying, harassment, and discrimination
- Dismissal and/or the manner of dismissal
Why is stress increasing?
Stress has become more common. The economic climate and skills shortages mean that in many industries there is more work, a shortage of skilled staff, and a rising amount of pressure.
With less time to complete work and nurture less experienced team members, people aren’t getting the learning and development they need. As a result, stress can be because of improper training which causes people to feel overwhelmed by the job and not understand it fully.
Stress can also be caused by being denied your rights at work: regular breaks, days off, paid leave, and proper rest between shifts.
What are the knock-on effects of this?
Employees might see their feelings of stress as a weakness that can cause further mental health problems. It also may cause employers to question the person’s future in the business.
Stress can lead to:
- Sleeping problems
- Memory loss
- Reduced productivity
- Low self-esteem
- Eating problems
- Weight loss
- Physical pain and aches
- Racing mind
- Trouble concentrating
- High blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Heart disease
How to reduce stress at work
If you realise you are experiencing stress at work, you should tell your employer. They should then try to reduce the stress by acting upon what you’ve said.
Visit your GP as they will suggest ways in which you can reduce your stress at work and give you a clearer view of the situation.
Can I make a claim for stress?
To make a claim for stress, you need to show the following:
- you have suffered a clinically significant psychiatric injury
- the harm was caused by the working environment
- employers breached their duty of care and did not do what was reasonable in the circumstances to keep the worker safe from harm
- the working environment posed a real risk of causing the illness and the employer knew (or ought to have known) that their employee was exposed to that risk
- foreseeability – depends on what the employer knew or ought to have known
If your employer does not aim to minimise stress and reduce it, you may be entitled to compensation.