Thursday, 14 June 2007

Warning to protect workers

Shropshire bosses are being warned they must protect their staff from stress in the workplace if they want to avoid costly damages.

The warning comes after a woman was awarded over £130,000 when she suffered a nervous breakdown brought on by pressure at work.

John Mehtam, who specialises in Employment Law, at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said the case was a timely reminder for employers that they must take stress seriously.

“The woman had repeatedly told her employer about the amount of work she was struggling with, and she claimed they did nothing to help her tackle the issue.
“The High Court ruled that the demands made on her were totally unreasonable, and if action had been taken, her breakdown could probably have been avoided."

John said the employer in the case had referred the woman to a stress counsellor, but at no stage was anyone brought in to share her workload.
“Simply offering stress counselling is not a long-term solution – if the root of the problem is the amount of work an employee is facing, the management team have to tackle the problem directly.

“As an employer, you are ultimately responsible for the welfare of your staff, and it’s vital that you take their concerns seriously.

“Although access to stress counsellors and medical advice is a supportive step in the right direction, it’s not the answer to the problem as a whole.“Many employees feel under pressure, particularly when a company is working to meet tough deadlines, but it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure their health does not suffer as a direct consequence of striving for business success.”