The incidences of stress-related illness caused by work has steadily risen over recent years, and its impact is often underrated. Your employer has a duty of care to consider the impact of stress in the workplace. If this hasn’t happened and your mental and physical health has suffered as a result, then it may be possible to make a compensation claim for work-related stress.
Can I make a claim?
If conditions at work are unbearable and are leading to difficulties with your mental health, then it’s unreasonable for an employer to expect you to put up with it indefinitely. If you’re suffering from the effects of stress you should firstly talk to your employer. They should offer ways forward that prioritise your health and wellbeing, helping to resolve the cause of the issue. A responsible employer will agree to take the steps necessary, but if they’re unwilling to do so, you may be entitled to a stress at work compensation claim.
Why might someone make a stress at work claim?
Stress at work can be incredibly debilitating for the individual concerned. If it’s left unaddressed the consequences can be severe and long-term. They can impact on the life of the individual long after they’ve left the employment that caused the issue to develop.
Although there are numerous reasons why someone might make a stress at work claim some of the more common reasons include:
- Excessive workload – Forcing employees to work ever longer hours or expecting them to complete excessive amounts of work in their scheduled hours might be regarded as excessive workload. Unrealistic expectations and last-minute deadlines can lead to high levels of stress over time.
- Failure to provide adequate training – If an employee is asked to do a job for which they’re not adequately trained or prepared, it can lead to severe stress. Every employee should be given the training necessary to properly discharge their duties to the best of their ability. Without proper training, employees are much more likely to feel overwhelmed.
- Workplace bullying and harassment – Bullying and harassment at work can be all too commonplace. If left unchecked it can cause severe stress and psychological strain to its targets. It can take many forms including subtle jokes targeting an employer’s nationality, ethnicity, religion, age or sexuality. It might include more overt forms of racism such as abusive language, being threatening or making excessive demands. This can take place in person, by phone, email or letter.
- Being overlooked for promotion – In some cases, overlooking someone for promotion for which they are qualified and may be the strongest candidate, can be taken as workplace bullying.
- Denial of employee rights – According to the law in the UK, all employees have the right to a reasonable amount of break, annual leave and rest periods. Workers who aren’t given adequate time off work can soon become overwhelmed and stressed.
If any of the above can be applied to your situation, and you feel that your employer is to blame, then you may be able to file a stress at work claim.
What compensation might you receive?
Every stress at work claim is treated as unique, which means that the amount that’s rewarded can differ widely between individuals. However, there are some broad figures that give you an indication of what you might receive for a successful claim.
- If severe stress issues have impacted on your working and private life, which are resistant to treatment then the payout can be substantial. In the past, this has ranged somewhere between £43,710 and £92,240.
- For claims which are termed as moderately severe, but the prognosis for long-term recovery is positive, you may receive somewhere between £15,200 and £43,710.
- If you suffer moderate symptoms where the prognosis for recovery is positive, you could receive between £4,670 and £15,200.
- If you suffer from less severe symptoms which affects your ability to cope with everyday life, you could receive between £1,220 and £4,670.
A personal injury claims legal specialist will take account of your injuries and use their knowledge of recent cases to advise the amount of compensation you might receive.
For a compensation claim to succeed it needs to be shown that an employer has been negligent or in breach of their statutory duty. There is only one statutory piece of legislation that covers stress at work, The Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The principles of negligence remain as the guidelines when it comes to assessing the liability of the employer.
It will need to be shown that the employer knew and understood that their employee was being placed under intolerable working conditions. This can be difficult to establish as different people have different levels of tolerance to stress. While someone may be happy working a 70 hour week, another person would find that unsustainable in the long term.
This means that a claim is only likely to succeed if it can be shown that an employer was made aware of the difficulties their employee was experiencing, and then failed to address them. This reaffirms the importance of first talking to your employer. This is often not the case as when we are struggling to cope with our workload we may be reluctant to mention our difficulties to anyone, least of all our employer.
If you have an issue with stress at work it is imperative that you talk to your employer and then record the details of any exchange. If your employer then fails to address your issue, it may be worthwhile approaching them again to reaffirm what you went through with a trusted colleague as a witness. All of this will help should you later make a claim for workplace stress.
Supporting evidence is crucial to any compensation claim for stress at work. In this type of claim the key evidence is the evidence that alerts your employer to the suffering of an individual due to issues at work, and that this is starting to create health problems. It has to be shown that the employer was given an opportunity to help resolve the issue but failed to do so.
In many cases, the employer only knows about the issue when the employee is signed off work with stress. If the employee doesn’t return to work and then launches a stress at work claim, it’s unlikely that the employer would be found liable. The employer has not been given the opportunity to rectify the issue.
The employer can also avoid liability if they can demonstrate that they attempted to address the problem, but that it proved completely impractical. Definitions of this will vary from workplace to workplace and industry to industry.
Readjustment of duties
Upon visiting your GP and receiving a diagnosis of work-related stress, your doctor may suggest a readjustment of duties at your workplace. Particularly in cases where you’re suffering from depression or another stress-related condition, your condition could amount to a disability. If that’s the case your employer may have a duty of care and will be expected to make reasonable adjustments to your working patterns. These could include:
- Re-allocation of excessive work
- Extra supervision or support
- Reduced working hours
- Confidential counselling
It can also be the case that the workplace culture is causing undue stress in employees. This can be shown to be the case particularly if more than one employee has had issues with stress.
If informal conversations with your employer or interventions from your manager or HR department have failed to resolve the issue, you should issue a formal notice to your employer. This should highlight the problems that you have been encountering at work and how the resulting stress is affecting your health and ability to do your job.
If your employer still fails to acknowledge the problem or to provide a reasonable readjustment of duties, then you should contact an experienced personal injury solicitor.
Assessing your claim
If you have suffered stress related issues at work then our team of experienced personal injury experts can advise if your claim might be successful and how much compensation you could receive.
Supporting your claim
To ensure you get the compensation you deserve, we have an expert claims team, covering the Liverpool, Leigh, Runcorn, and Warrington areas. The solicitor we provide you with will support your claim every step of the way, explaining what evidence and proof you will need to provide and guiding you through the entire process.
We make this as easy for you to understand as possible, so that you are always clear about what is going on and where everything is up to as your claim progresses.
We want to make sure that when you claim you will receive the best compensation possible, and that you get the right support to help you recover from your injuries or ill health.
Contact Mark Reynolds Solicitors
We have four offices across the northwest including Liverpool, Leigh, Runcorn & Warrington. Contact us on 0800 002 9577 or start your no win-no fee claim online through our contact page and we will call you at a time that is convenient for you.