According to the Health and Safety Executive, in 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of work related ill health and for 43% of all sickness absence days. They also estimate that each case of work-related stress resulted, on average, in 23 days off work.
If you’re running a business, that’s a lot of time lost. As a lawyer, I thought I’d say a little about two legal aspects of this.
First, if an employee suffers from stress, there is a chance that an employment tribunal would consider them to have a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. That means that as their employer, you may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist them.
What's reasonable depends on the circumstances - you aren't expected to destroy your business. But, for example, if simply allowing an employee to "do something different" helps, as the mental health charity Mind suggests in the linked article, that might be a win-win for all concerned - a healthier workforce is more productive.
Secondly, employers have a duty to ensure, as much as is reasonably practicable, that their employees are healthy and safe at work. That includes mental health. For that reason, you should actively consider whether any of your employees are overly stressed, and do what you can to relieve that.
But let's forget about all of this dry legality. You want a fun, healthy and creative workforce. An office like that is a considerably more creative and enjoyable place to work. So, as Mind says, do something different today.
If you require further advice on these issues, you may wish to join our community; on elXtr we have guides on this issue from both the health and safety and the Equality Act perspectives.
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We know that it can be difficult to talk about mental health or to ask for support. That’s why we’re asking you to ‘do something different’ around mental health where you work or volunteer, on Wednesday 2nd November – National Stress Awareness Day.