BACKGROUND TO THE LAW AND STRESS IN THE WORKPLACE
In 1998 in ‘Help on Work-Related Stress; a Short Guide’, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) stated, “It is your duty in law to make sure that your employees are not made ill by their work. And stress can make your employees ill. Employers who do not take stress seriously leave themselves open to compensation claims from employees who have suffered ill health from work-related stress”.
The Health and Safety Executive continue to be increasingly concerned over the issue of stress related illness and absence. Employers should note that it is a legal requirement to exercise Duty of Care for the welfare of the workforce. This includes the mental health as well as the physical environment and stress has now overtaken back pain as the main reason for absence.
- There always has been a duty of care owed to employees under ‘common law’ but the burden of proving that an employer had breached the duty of care was on the shoulders of the employee
- Health And Safety At Work Act 1974 shifted the Duty of Care on to employers to demonstrate that sufficient care had been taken. HASAWA is criminal law and therefore there is NO insurance against prosecution. Directors have liabilities they cannot avoid. They can delegate tasks but not overall responsibility. Their liabilities are even more onerous with the introduction of Corporate Killing legislation.
- Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 – s2 (d) applies to safety…
- The Health and Safety Commission 2000 Decision was to identify work-related stress as one of the priority programmes within the Revitalising Health and Safety initiative.
- 2003 Health & Safety Executive Management Standards require that employees should be satisfied in 6 areas, namely, (demands, support, control, role, relationships, change)