Stress at work is an issue that comes across many employment lawyers’ desks. It gets raised as an issue, rightly or wrongly, in many disputes between employer and employee and is often used by some employees to disrupt disciplinary and performance management proceedings brought against them.Some employers probably do not care how much work or aggravation they heap upon their workforce in the race to remain competitive and get the job done.
stress at work
Banks are facing a rising tide of stress at work claims, according to Reuters yesterday. The report refers to anecdotal evidence by GQ Employment Lawyers to the effect that the number of “stress related lawsuits” is on the increase, but doesn’t say what type of lawsuits, nor give any statistics to back up the assertion.
Never mind, the Health & Safety Executive’s own statistics for 2010/11 state the following;
“The number of new cases of stress, depression or anxiety has fallen from an estimated 254,000 in 2001/02 to 211,000 [in 2010/11]” *
According to research by mental health charity Mind, workers fear that if they admit to being depressed or suffering from stress they will be selected for redundancy or “forced out of their jobs”.
Their statistics showed that 22% of those surveyed who had disclosed a mental health issue in a previous job had been fired. It’s a natural reaction and it undoubtedly happens, but proving that the selection for redundancy was because the employee said they were unwell is quite another matter. As the Mind website reveals, sometimes an employer can be very supportive. Sadly, that often isn’t the case.
On the 6th April next month, the government’s new medical certification scheme comes into force replacing the current “Med3” sick note system. It was decided to do away with the scheme because it focussed too much on what employees could not do and not enough on what they could. In other words, a person was either too sick to work, or they were well and it ignored any, temporary or rehabilitative options that there might be to allow the person to remain in work. For instance a person with back ache might be fit to work provided they did no heavy lifting or were allowed to get up and walk about every hour to ease discomfort whilst sitting. With a Med3 that person can’t go to work despite the fact that they could do light duties. The government’s aim, of course, is to reduce the number of days lost to sickness and the number of people from claiming benefit. The government has long been exercised by how to reduce the number of people on long-term sick leave, suffering from chronic conditions and the new “fitness to work” certificate tries to remedy that.
As promised last Monday, I am delighted today to welcome my first guest blogger, Ian Barratt (pictured, right) of Mind Strengths Ltd, to present his Seven Top Stress Management Tips on this third Monday of January, the allegedly most miserable day of the year. Ian is a qualified stress management consultant speaker and author. His book “The Phoenix Strategy”, co-authored with Amanda Robinson was published last October. Mind Strengths Ltd is a consultancy company offering workplace strress management , wellbeing and support services. Tomorrow I will look at how employers can minimise the risk of being sued for stress at work by employees.
So, it’s Monday again. It always seems to be Monday and they never seem to get any better. The Boomtown Rats didn’t like them, still less Brenda Spencer the 16 year old girl whose 1979 shooting spree in San Diego and subsequent blunt explanation inspired their song. Even if most people aren’t drawn to actually shooting their fellow workers, the third Monday in January is the worst, bleakest, most depressing day of the year. This is supposedly because Christmas is a distant memory, the credit card bills need paying, the weather is awful and the next holiday is months away. See this article from Mail Online last year for the full horror story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-509367/Its-miserable-Monday-How-think-positive-bleakest-day-year.html
Everyone is producing reviews of the decade at the moment – they seem to be everywhere in the newspapers and online. I was taken by The Independent’s sports poll in which Thierry Henry is a leading candidate for “Villain of the decade” for his recent handball against the Republic of Ireland, presumably on the basis that it is still fresh in everyone’s minds (and isn’t The Independent Irish-owned?). That’s always the problem with these polls, it becomes hard to remember who the villains were in 2008, let alone 2000.