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Employment law

Workplace stress since working from home

Our experts break down what steps you can take when experiencing increased mental strain and stress whilst working from home.

09 December 2021

With the average person spending a large amount of their time working, and data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) anticipating that hybrid working will increase after the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that you’re able to carry out your role without stress.

A 2019 - 2020 survey from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 828,000 workers in the UK were suffering from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety.

Has there been a rise in workplace stress for remote workers?

Research from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) found that although many home workers have benefited from less financial stress, changes in mental distress were significantly higher for those working at home - regardless of their living circumstances - in May, July and November 2020.

The NatCen study found that some respondents were feeling lonely working from home, with those working from home and living alone reporting larger increases in emotional distress than any other workers.

Other common causes of workplace stress when working from home may include communication barriers, distractions or dependants at home, bullying or discrimination (remembering that bullying and discrimination can still take place online), workload, and lack of distinction between work time and personal time.

What to do if you’re experiencing stress working from home

If you’re suffering from stress working from home, there are workplace adjustments that you can look to make to help remedy this. Here are our top tips for managing the stress of working from home:

1. Explore the cause of the issue - Mental health charity, Mind, explains that it’s important to find out what’s causing workplace stress, as work stress can lead to the development of mental health problems and make any existing mental health problems feel worse. Before you take any further action, try to find out what it is that’s causing you to feel stressed.

2. Speak to your employer- Once you’ve identified what the issue is, you’ll need to speak with your employer and let them know if you require any reasonable adjustments. Reasonable adjustments are underpinned by the Equality Act 2010, which protects employees from discrimination on the grounds of nine protected characteristics, including disability. A mental health condition is classed as a disability if it has a long-term affect on your normal day-to-day activity.

You may consider requesting the following adjustments:

  • Flexible working- If you’re an employee with 26 weeks’ continuous employment, you have the right to request flexible working. A flexible working request will allow you to request amendments to your working hours, compressed working hours (i.e., working the same hours but over fewer days), and part time working (including job share)

  • More one to one support- If you’re suffering from poor mental health due to stress caused by workload, you can request additional support from your line manager. This will help bridge any communication gaps and they’ll be able to help you prioritise and assess your workload

3. Raise any incidents of bullying, harassment or discrimination- No one should have put up with this type of behaviour when simply doing their job. If you feel you’ve been bullied, harassed or discriminated against whilst working from home, you’ll need to start by raising this to your line manager, another manager, or a member of the HR team. If the situation doesn’t improve, then you’ll need to raise this formally, and if it still doesn’t improve following you raising the issue formally, then you may be able to make a claim.

4. Keep records- Always speak to someone you trust in your organisation, such as a line manager or a member of the HR department, and don’t forget to keep records of any conversations or agreements in case of any difficulties arising further down the line.

What are your rights if your employer is failing in their duty of care?

There are many factors that determine whether or not your employer has in fact failed in their duty of care, based on your individual circumstances, and so it’s best to seek initial legal advice from an expert employment solicitor. They’ll be able to let you know whether you have a case and what the next steps are, so that you can look forward to a brighter, stress-free future.

You have just three months in which to pursue a claim (and this period will run even when you are trying to resolve the issues internally with your employer), so you’ll need to be prompt in seeking legal advice.

Legal advice

If you’d like us to support you, we’re here to help. Our team are experts in all elements of employment law. You can also find further information over on our employment law FAQ page.

If you’d like support from our team of employment lawyers, simply get in touch on 0330 041 5869, or, if you prefer, you can contact us via our online form or web chat.

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