Work Related Stress Claims Guidance for Employers

Posted:14th October 2020

Claims against Employers from employees suffering from ‘stress at work’ are on the increase and the current Pandemic is inevitably playing a significant role. Where stress transitions ( as it often does) to clinically recognized Anxiety and Depression the stakes increase with the resultant risk of exposure to claims alleging Unlawful Discrimination in the workplace where compensation awards can be eye wateringly high.

So what claims may an unhappy Employee bring?

1. Breach of Contract Claims

In this context breaches of their Employment contract and the absence of a contract will hinder rather than help you! Expect allegations of breaches of implied terms (those which are rarely written into most contracts) but which place on any employer responsibilities to provide their employees with a safe place and system of work and to provide reasonable support.These Claims can be brought in the Employment Tribunal or in the Civil Courts

2. Unfair Dismissal Claims

Where an employee has been dismissed typically because of their conduct or performance at work they may claim that this was influenced by the stress they were suffering at the time. More commonly in practice are the cases where the employee resigns and claims that this was because their employer caused or allowed them to become stressed to the extent that they were no longer able or willing to work, so called ‘Constructive Dismissal’ claims.

3. Discrimination Claims

Where an individual is suffering a mental condition which is having a substantial effect on the daily lives and has done or is likely to for a period of 1 year or more, the chances are they will be recognized as Disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act which places extensive obligations on Employers not to act in a way which discriminates against them and includes a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help them carry out their job. Employees can often conceal or withhold information about their disability but raise this when they feel aggrieved. Discrimination claims can be included in a claim for Unfair Dismissal but can also be brought by employees during the course of their employment.

Other potential claims are Personal Injury Compensation claims which can only be brought in the Civil Courts and claims under the Protection from Harassment Act which can be heard in the civil courts or the Magistrates Court.

Early professional evaluation of Claims is crucial as of course is taking steps to minimize the risk of claims. ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

For advice on Claims or on how to manage Stress in the workplace contact Graham Shannon on 0191 323 3932 or at [email protected].