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Employment Solicitor: Why Employers Should Be Taking Stress at Work Seriously

By Principal Lawyer, Employment

Britain may be clawing her way out of an unprecedented economic downturn but the cost of the crash is far more than just financial.

Stress is now the biggest cause of long-term absence from work in the UK according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development; an entire workforce is sat at home, unproductive.

According to the Health & Safety Executive, in the midst of the economic crash an astonishing 400,000 people a year were absent from work due to stress. In 2010/11, 1,152,000 people were absent due to work related illnesses – stress is by far the biggest danger at work.

This problem has become an epidemic prompted by tighter margins, a disappearing bottom-line and bosses trying to protect profits by demanding more for less.    

A survey by Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK found that causes of stress at work include being given too much work (39%), unrealistic deadlines (32%), working more hours than contracted (20%), undue scrutiny or micromanagement (17%) and harassment by bosses or colleagues (16%).

When we think of Health & Safety at work we need to consider more than just avoiding slips and trips and lifting heavy items properly.

Management must act now. Stress, anxiety and depression linked to work has the potential to be the Achilles heel that leaves Britain’s dash to recovery resembling a limp.

Bosses have a legal duty to make sure the risk of stress is minimised, just like they need to protect workers from physical injury. And yet a stigma remains around people admitting they have a problem which suggests Britain’s workplaces need a culture change; and quick!

Stress can be just as crippling to a person as a serious, lasting physical injury. Employers must do more to recognise this and ensure Britain is not left behind.

Harriet Bowtell is an Employment Solicitor in London at Slater and Gordon Lawyers.

To read Slater and Gordon's research including the top ten causes of stress in the workplace, see stress at work survey.

For more information call our Employment Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have over 1,200 staff and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Merseyside, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Cambridge & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.

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