The workplace has increasingly become a more stressful place with tight deadlines, harsh workloads, demanding pace of work and increased expectations on employees. With one in six employees suffering with a mental ill health such as stress, depression or anxiety, workplace mental health is high on the agenda for many organisations, and with good reason. If it left unchecked it can eat like dry rot through the heart of an organisation not only depleting morale but leaving you vulnerable to stress related compensation claims.
In the case of Hatton v Sutherland and other , the Court of Appeal described stress as “an excess of demands upon an individual in excess of their ability to cope”. One of the 16 “practical propositions” laid down by the Court of Appeal to be considered in injury claims arising from work-related stress is reasonable “foreseeability of harm” This includes consideration of:
(1) the “nature and extent” of the work
(2) whether the workload is much greater than normal (excessive workload)
(3) whether the work is particularly intellectually or emotionally demanding for that employee
(4) whether unreasonable demands are being made of the employee (excessive workload)
(5) whether others doing this job are suffering harmful levels of stress
(6) whether there is an abnormal level of sickness or absenteeism in the same job or department.
It is an employer's legal duty to make sure that employees do not suffer from unacceptable stress at work and are not made ill by the work that they do. Employers who don't take this problem seriously may be leaving themselves open to stress at work compensation claims from employees who have suffered mental ill health. Creating a culture whereby employees feel confident to approach managers to discuss the struggles they are experiencing in relation to their mental health is vital. Early intervention is key, however the stigma of stress related illness is still somewhat of a problem with the majority of workers not wishing to disclose the true nature of their absence.
The Mental Health First Aid course is just one way to educate your workforce and to pave the way for the culture required to prevent future claims with regards to work related stress. Health Perks Ltd deliver MHFA courses in house and also deliver public courses. If you would like to know more about this and the other services we offer please get in touch.