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Stress in the Workplace - What All Employers Should Know

The Legal Position

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 employers have a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. Employees are also required to cooperate with and implement their employer's policies in this respect.
 
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 employers have a duty to assess the health and safety risks (including stress) to which their employees are exposed at work.
 
Under the Equality Act 2010 employers have a duty not to discriminate against employees on account of their disability as defined under the Act. This involves making reasonable adjustments to the workplace or to the way the work is done, if the existing working arrangements or physical features place the disabled person concerned at a substantial disadvantage. Long-term ill health arising from, or exacerbated by, stress at work may constitute a disability under the Act.
 
The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 require employers to consult with their employees on promoting, developing and monitoring measures to ensure their health and safety at work, including matters relating to stress. This may be undertaken through safety representatives appointed by a recognised independent trade union or through employee representatives.
 
Employers and employees also have a common law general duty of care towards others who may be affected by their actions.

Why Have a Stress Management Policy?

Workplace stress is the main cause of long term absence in non-manual workers and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that 13.4 million working days per year are lost due to employee stress, anxiety or depression.
 
Although there is no legal requirement to have a written policy specifically on stress, having one will help ensure that you comply with your obligations as an employer, and demonstrates your commitment to best practice towards employees.
 
Prefer to have EmployEasily Legal Services draft a policy for you?  No problem, just give us a call today on 0800 612 4772 or use the Free Quote Form on uour website and we'll get in touch.
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