All kinds of occupations can place a heavy stress burden on an employee. Many of these jobs are inherently stressful but all kinds of jobs can become stressful due to office dynamics, commercial pressures or a combination of other factors. Stress is still sometimes viewed as a lesser or non-existent illness that is perhaps used as an excuse for poor performance. In reality, stress is a complex condition that can impact on the general health and wellbeing of an individual.
Severe stress can be behind other health problems such as heart problems, anxiety, fatigue, severe depression, sleep issues, weight loss and nausea. It can impact on personal relationships, impinge on career progression and ultimately damage someone’s earning potential.
Employers have a responsibility to reduce stress
Every employer has a duty of care towards their employees. This means that their health and wellbeing should be a priority and that the workplace shouldn’t be a place where threats to health and welfare are allowed to develop. They have a duty to ensure that adequate amounts of support, assistance and training are in place to reduce the risk of stress.
Informing an employer about a stressful situation
If you have experienced stress in the workplace you first have to inform your employer about the situation. This, in itself, can be a worrying or anxiety producing task, particularly if you don’t feel that your employer is supportive. Often, however, what can feel like a lack of support is in fact ignorance of the true extent of the situation. A responsible employer at this point will look at what adjustments they can make to individual work-patterns or to the overall working environment to help improve the situation.
If you are finding it difficult to approach your employer, talk to a colleague and ask if they would be willing to accompany you in raising the issue. This can also be helpful later on if your employer fails to take necessary action.
If your employer has been made aware of the situation but then does nothing to reduce the risks to the health of their employees, you may then be able to pursue a claim for compensation. Awareness combined with inaction can mean employer liability for stress-related illnesses developing in their workforce.
How do you make a compensation claim?
Although stress and mental illness can sometimes seem like a less tangible and more complicated form of personal injury than physical injury, they are treated very similarly in terms of the law.
It’s possible to successfully claim compensation for stress at work, but you can only do so if a medical diagnosis has been made. The illness will need to be regarded as severe enough to warrant a claim. If you’ve been diagnosed with a stress-related illness that has been caused by the conditions under which an employer has made you work, and it can be described as a personal injury, then there’s a good chance of receiving compensation.
So, if you’ve been experiencing severe stress at work it’s important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible. This is not only to ensure you receive the correct treatment, but also that you have a diagnosis that can support any compensation claim.
As well as showing the seriousness of your condition you will need to prove that it was caused by the workplace environment. You will need to illustrate that the work you were required to do carried obvious risks that the employer was aware of but chose to do nothing about. You will need to illustrate that your employer breached their duty of care.
How to take action
If you are experiencing stress at work then it’s vital that you seek medical advice as quickly as possible for your own wellbeing. Then, if possible, you should try to resolve the issues that are causing stress by raising them with HR or a colleague, before talking to your employer in person. If that fails to produce any changes then contact a personal injury claims specialist to discuss your situation.
Mark Reynolds Solicitors Ltd is a law firm with an exceptional reputation for achieving success and in providing quality of service in Personal Injury cases. Contact our experienced team for confidential and impartial advice today.