The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has clarified its criteria for investigating work-related stress concerns following an increase in the number of complaints and widespread industry confusion.
“As awareness of WRS and mental ill-health increases, the amount of concerns raised with HSE also increases. Many of these are not appropriate for HSE or Local Authorities (LAs). Responding to these has resource implications and it is hoped by making it clearer when to approach HSE, we can limit that impact.” the regulator says.
HSE figures show over 15 million working days were lost in 2018 due to stress at work. According to the LFS survey, almost 600,000 people experienced stress, anxiety or depression caused or aggravated by their work.
This group were responsible for 57 per cent of all working days lost to ill health – a significant cost to employers, employees, and the GB economy.
“All Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from work-related stress by doing a risk assessment and acting to tackle or remove any identified risks,” HSE said in a statement.
HSE will consider investigating concerns about work-related stress where:
- There is evidence that a number of staff are currently experiencing work-related stress or stress-related ill health, but
- HSE will not normally investigate concerns solely related to individual cases of bullying or harassment, but may consider this if there is evidence of a wider organisational failing, and
- HSE would expect concerns about work-related stress to have been raised already with the employer, and for the employer to have been given sufficient time to respond accordingly.
The regulator notes that any HSE intervention will focus on the organisational arrangements in place and will not address individual circumstances.
Various free tools are also available on the HSE website, including the Management Standards approach to work related stress.