Compensation for Workplace Stress

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By Oliviah Rix-Taylor

on Thursday 18 October 2018

stressed nurse

Work related stress and employer’s responsibility

In the UK work related stress results in almost 12 million lost working days each year. We spend a large portion of our lives in the workplace; where pressures, deadlines, team members and employer expectations impact our state of mind every single day.

It’s no wonder so many of us start to feel the effects of work-related stress and have to take time off to cope with the enormous pressure placed on us at work.

Work-related stress is common in the UK, with over half a million of us suffering from work-related stress between 2015 and 2016.

Defined as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other demands placed on them”, work-related stress has most likely affected us all at some point in our careers.

Employers have a responsibility to protect you from unwarranted pressure and unnecessary demands in the workplace. In fact, it is your employer’s legal duty to protect you from stress at work.

The key responsibility of your employer is to carry out a risk assessment of work stressors and then act on it in order to prevent harm to your well-being. This is known as a duty of care and it is very important when establishing a work place negligence claim.

Can you claim compensation for work related stress?

If you have been adversely affected by stress in your work place and believe your employer could have done more to prevent it from happening then they are in breach of their duty of care and have acted negligently towards you. This is grounds for a personal injury claim for psychological harm and can result in a compensation pay out for work place stress.

How much compensation can I claim for stress at work?

Work related stress can give rise to a plethora of psychiatric and psychological harm including depression, anxiety and insomnia. The judicial college calculate the compensation amount for work related stress based on how much pain and suffering you have endured and what that impact has had on your life.

These are known as general and special damages and can include any financial losses you have suffered. This might have resulted from days off work, counselling costs, missed bill payment charges or anything financially relating to your work related stress. For a quick look at the average pay out for stress at work, view the table below;

Severity Compensation
Less severe - the award will consider the length of the disability experienced, phobias or anxity will relate to minor injuries£1,220 to £4,670
Moderate - there will be marked improvement and the prognosis will be good£4,670 to £15,200
Moderately severe - marked decrease in ability to cope with work, life and education but the prognosis is much more optimistic£15,200 to £43,710
Severe - the ability to cope with work, education and life has been damaged with future liklihood of vulnerability£43,710 to £92,240

Causes of stress at work

According to the Health and Safety Executive there are six main causes for work related stress:

  • Demands

  • Control

  • Support

  • Relationships

  • Role

  • Change

Within these six causes for stress are specific examples and it is important to remember that stress affects everybody differently. One person’s reaction to a change in their job role might not be the same as everyone else. Some people don’t mind poor working relationships whilst others are extremely negatively impacted by them. Being in a team that has a blame culture or members that bully others can be incredibly stressful and over time will affect your health and wellbeing.

A lot of work related stress is caused when employees have too much workload and are unable meet targets and deadlines. Essentially the demands their employers have of them are unrealistic.

Many others suffer from work related stress when they don’t fully understand their job role or what their main responsibilities are or how to carry them out.

Management standards should be in place, where ever you work, in order to ensure you are happy and confident in your role. Employers should be keen to implement these management standards because work related stress results in poor productivity, increased absences, and ill health amongst staff.

How to cope with stress at work

If your employer has set up management standards properly then there will be helpful procedures in place should you be experiencing unwarranted work place stress. Firstly you should talk to someone about the reasons for your stress. This could be your manager or a trade union representative. If you feel that your level of stress is impacting on your health and wellbeing then you should also speak to your GP and explain to them the effects your work is having on your health. It is not uncommon for a doctor to sign someone off work for a few weeks in order to cope with workplace stress.

For long term changes and help however, it is best to speak to someone in your workplace as well as  GP so that changes can be made to ease the level of stress in your role.

Your employer should listen to you and take your complaint seriously before implementing an action plan to help support you. If you receive a negative response from your employer or you are told there is nothing that can be done about it and that is just the nature of the role, then it might be worth speaking to a solicitor as this could be classed as negligence.

When should I claim for workplace stress?

You should consider making a claim for compensation when there has been no effort on your employers side to rectify any pressures placed on you at work that have led to your personal harm.

Your solicitor will need to provide evidence that you have developed workplace stress and that your employer was liable for the harm this caused you.

The evidence that will help support your solicitor in winning compensation is:

  • A manager or someone you report to being aware of your stress level with no action being taken.

  • An excessive workload that could not comprehensively be completed before given deadlines.

  • You have had to take time off work for injury or stress or you were unreasonably refused time off.

  • You were pressured to continue working whilst you were ill.

  • You made a complaint about a fellow member of staff’s behaviour towards you but no action was taken against them.

With workplace stress, you have six years to make a claim. This is unlike other personal injury claims like a slip, trip or fall where you only have three years to make a claim.

In order to claim for compensation from your employer you will most likely need to be assessed by a medical professional to establish the extent of harm your work place stress has had on you. Accident Line Direct is able to arrange this.

Will a compensation claim for work related stress get me fired?

It is illegal for your employer to fire you if you have claimed for compensation against them following a personal injury in the workplace.

However, you may want to think about why you claimed for compensation in the first place and whether you still want to work in an environment that caused you to become ill due to stress.

Making a claim for compensation might bring home to your employer the importance of a healthy working environment and remind them of the consequences if their staff are unhappy and unproductive. You could return to work and find that there have been organisational overhauls to put systems into place to prevent your situation from ever happening again. This is an excellent way for an employer to respond and shows that they have paid due care and attention to your claim.

Occupations with high rates of stress

There are always going to be job roles that have extremely high pressures and stressors such as those working in the armed forces or in the emergency services. The difference with these roles is that employees are trained to deal with high level stress situations and are offered counselling and occupational health therapists to help them deal with the pressures of their role.

However, people in these careers are still vulnerable to work-related stress that can and should be managed to prevent you from becoming unwell. If you are working in a high pressured environment yet still believe you are experiencing unnecessary stress from the following causes, then you may be able to win compensation;

  • Demands

  • Control

  • Support

  • Relationships

  • Role

  • Change

Accident Line Direct

If you are thinking of making a claim then give us a call on our free phone number. One of our industry experts can talk to you about your situation and offer on the spot guidance and advice.

We are able to offer No Win No Fee agreements to our clients so if you are worried about the cost of making a claim then you won’t have to pay any money directly to us. We will take a success fee if we win your case and if we lose we won’t take any money from you.

It is always worth speaking to a professional and getting some insight into your situation and whether you will be able to make a claim. Call us now on the number below.