Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Stress guidance cuts compensation woesOn 12 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Employers offering confidential counselling services to staff are unlikelyto be found guilty in stress compensation claims following a landmark legalruling last week. The Court of Appeal has laid down new guidelines stating that stressedemployees must talk to bosses about their problems before resorting to legalaction. The guidelines follow TUC research, which reveals a 12-fold increase in thenumber of work-related stress claims last year. The court overturned damages of almost £200,000 and ruled no job isinherently dangerous to mental health. It also ruled that firms are entitled toassume workers can handle the normal pressures of their job unless notified ofany problems. Diane Sinclair, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, welcomed the guidelinesas they will place the onus on employees to raise their concerns over stress atwork before taking legal action. “The Court of Appeal has reached the common sense decision. Employeesmust make their employer aware of any stress they are suffering as a result ofwork. Employers, for their part, must take complaints seriously and act as soonas possible to resolve the problems,” she said. Russell McCallion, HR director for London Luton Airport, also supported theruling. “Work is rarely the sole source of stress in an employee’s life,”he said. “Perhaps this ruling will help address the reality that stress isa factor in all aspects of life, not just at work. Employers do need to addresslegitimate employee stress concerns in a supportive and realistic manner.”Christopher Mordue, an associate at Pinsent Curtis Biddle, said the rulingwill mean HR professionals must re-examine their policies to ensure theyprovide effective counselling and occupational health provision. By Ross Wigham The guidelines will mean:– Employers will usually be able toassume that employees can withstand the pressures of the job unless they knowof some particular problem or vulnerability– If the employer offers a confidential counselling servicewith access to treatment they will rarely be held in breach of their duty ofcare– Employees will need to raise concerns regarding stress withtheir employers and give the employer a chance to do something about it.FeedbackStress prevention better than cureRussell McCallion, HR director atLondon Luton Airport, said: “First, the employee and employer can jointly address anyperceived issues at a stage before the employee is faced with a major healthproblem, ensuring an early resolution.Second, and of equal importance, the major stress imposed onemployee and employer in entering legal proceedings to resolve an advanced casemay be avoided.”Sally Storey, HR director at theQueen Elizabeth Hospital in Greenwich, said: “Although I support the move, I have concerns. Many staffwill be reluctant to disclose stress at early stages and this change in culturewill take a while to take effect. As an HR professional I am concerned thathard-line managers will be able to hide behind the excuse of ‘they didn’t tellme’.”Line managers should be as aware [of staff stresspost-changes] as they are now.”Martin Hinchliffe, HR director forWelcome Break, said: “This will encourage all employers to examine theirinternal procedures so they comply with the guidelines.”Perhaps if an individual is alone in finding an existingrole stressful they could be moved to a different role within the company.”TUC senior health and safetypolicy officer, Owen Tudor said: “Unions will certainly ensure that employers know theymust assess the risks of stressful occupations. We shall make sure our membersknow that the Court of Appeal has urged them not to suffer in silence but gettheir complaints about bullying, overwork, inadequate training and unrealisticdeadlines on record.” Related posts:No related photos.