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What are the laws on stress in the workplace?

The law says that employers are responsible for the safety of their employees while they are at work, and this includes stress. Certain levels of stress are normal and may even be helpful. However excessive levels of stress can be destructive and lead to psychiatric injury for which the employer may be liable for a claim in a county court, or Sheriff Court in Scotland, for negligence depending upon the circumstances.

Once an employer knows that a worker is or may be at risk of injury, they must investigate the problem and find out what they can do to resolve it.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (in Northern Ireland under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000), your employer must assess the nature and scale of health risks at work (including stress).

The Working Time Regulations place limits on the length of the working week and force all employers to give employees paid holiday.

In certain circumstances a claim for stress from harassment may form part of a claim to the employment tribunal in respect of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation discrimination under the Equality Act (or, in Northern Ireland, under various pieces of equality legislation addressing such protected characteristics including political opinion). Where a worker has become disabled due to the stress that they have suffered, the Equality Act (the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to their work or workplace.

Most public sector organisations are covered by the Public Sector Equality Duty contained in the Equality Act 2010 (in Northern Ireland section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act) which aims to make sure employers pay ”due regard“ to the promotion of equality.  This includes disabled people – some of whom may be more prone to stress – at work.

If you are affected by any of the symptoms of stress such as long working hours or unreasonable workloads, contact your UNISON rep immediately.

How should your employer deal with stress in the workplace?

Every employer should conduct a risk assessment in the workplace. The risk assessment should include stress as a potential hazard. If stress is identified as a hazard then appropriate control measures may need to be introduced.

(Source: UNISON)

How can Lightbulb Training Solutions help?

We harness the best aspects of Mindfulness, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), Clinical Hypnotherapy, Clinical Psychotherapy, NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), SFBT (Solution Focused Brief Therapy) and the very latest Neuroscience techniques backed by more than 25 years of teaching experience.

We have a range of services, courses, workshops and classes that create a solution focused workplace wellbeing programme for your   organisation that will enhance your reputation as a responsible employer, helping you to attract and retain the very best employees at all levels.  

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