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Work Place Stress

An employee suffering undue work-related stress may be able to claim for unfair and / or constructive dismissal in addition to personal injury and breach of contract.

For example, employees who feel that their work-related stress is not been addressed by their employer may feel that they have no choice but to resign giving rise to constructive dismissal. Similarly, employees who are dismissed due to raising concerns about their stressful working environment or for taking long periods of stress related absences may claim for unfair dismissal.

All employers have an implied contractual duty to provide a safe system and place of work and an implied term of mutual trust and confidence. Moreover, employers have a duty under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities; and under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, to take measures to control that risk. The Health and Safety Executive's definition of work-related stress is 'the process that arises where work demands of various types and combinations exceed the person's capacity and capability to cope'.

It is sensible for employers to have written into their health and safety policy "stress management" and a corresponding process whereby the responsibilities upon individual employees are monitored and openly discussed. Similarly, the Health and Safety Executive have developed the Management Standards which "define the characteristics, or culture, of an organisation where the risks from work related stress are being effectively managed and controlled". Employers should be alive to the same and should ensure effective procedures are in place to minimise the risk of stress-related claims.

Members of Chambers are able to assist in offering pragmatic and commercially viable advice to employers in this area, including offering legal training and advice to HR departments. Our barristers act on behalf of both claimants and defendants before employment tribunals; please contact the clerks for further details.

We accept instructions from solicitors, public bodies and via public access.

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