Intolerable Work Stress: What Can You Do Legally
Managers are now legally obligated to recognize and address workplace stress symptoms. It has become a significant issue in employee compensation suits.
This mandates three trends for all organizations:
- Employers must assess the risk of workplace stress.
- Take appropriate action to ensure workers’ wellbeing.
- Consider the wider implications of work-related stress.
Stress can significantly impact a business and its workforce. It affects absence, performance, and retention rates.
Moreover, it can affect the reputation of the business and employer brand.
A recent Chartered Institute of Personnel Development report shows that public sector workers are three times more likely to suffer from time off work due to stress than private sector employees.
However, this contradicts studies showing that one in five UK people suffer from work-related stress, with half a million reporting illness.
Laws Governing Workspace Stress
There is one major act and one regulation that controls the issue of workspace stress legally—
- Employers are responsible for safeguarding their workforce from the hazards of stress at work, as stated in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Therefore, they must take reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of their employees.
- Employers are required to comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It necessitates that employers assess the risks to their employees’ health and safety in the workplace. The assessment made by the employer must be considered ‘suitable and sufficient.’
Therefore, employers must conduct risk assessments to identify potential health risks to their employees and take steps to prevent or reduce work-related stress.
Moreover, they must also adhere to the Working Time Regulations 1998, as long hours without regular breaks can lead to work-related stress.
Understanding The Causes Of Work-related Stress
Work-related stress results from the pressures experienced by individuals due to their job role or the conditions they are required to perform.
Factors contributing to work-related stress include the following:
- Excessive workloads.
- Long hours of duty.
- Unmanageable responsibility.
- Lack of career progression.
- Compensation issues.
- Lack of support from the management.
- Poor working environments.
However, stress affects individuals differently. Therefore, the level of stress also depends on factors such as skills, experience, age, or disability can affect an employee’s ability to cope.
The Role Of Employment Lawyers
Employment lawyers, also known as workplace lawyers or solicitors, are legal professionals who offer advice and representation to employers and employees in employment and labor law matters.
Employment law for employees advocates their rights, which can cause work-related stress. Some of the major fields for employment lawyers are as follows—
- Workplace discrimination,
- Wrongful termination.
- Unpaid wages.
- Legal disputes.
They also provide legal representation in cases where employees’ rights have been violated. With the help of an employment lawyer, you can seek compensation and remedies.
Furthermore, they help you review employment contracts to ensure employees understand their rights and responsibilities. They negotiate on behalf of employees to secure fair accommodations, severance packages, or other favorable outcomes.
Steps To End Intorelable Workspace Stress
Finding legal solutions and waiting for the HR departments are some of the valid courses of action when you’re overtly stressed at work.
However, more often than not, we find situations where there seems to be no escape whatsoever. What should you do then?
Here are the three steps that can help you find an escape from intolerable stress—
1. Identify The Reason Or Source
Balancing your emotional and rational mind is crucial for preventing anxiety and stress.
When our emotional side overrides our rational thought process, we experience constant reactions. This leads to feelings of being out of control and perpetuating an escalating stress cycle.
Therefore, to regain control and leverage our rational thinking abilities, it’s essential to understand the sources of stress and take action to address them.
Whether one or multiple sources are at the root of stress, taking steps to manage it is possible.
2. Try To Change The Situation
Feeling trapped in one’s workspace can lead to increased stress levels.
To manage this, schedule meetings with your boss to discuss workload and performance needs.
If dealing with relationship issues, document everything and seek support from a mentor or HR department.
Remember that you are not powerless and should not accept the situation as it is. Instead, reshuffle the deck and take new cards to manage stress effectively.
All you need to remind yourself is that you are not powerless. So, don’t accept the current situation and take new steps.
External factors beyond your control, such as mergers and acquisitions or new bosses, can cause temporary stress.
To handle stress, consider all angles and determine the best course of action. If you have a new boss, schedule a meeting to discuss their goals and how you can help them achieve them.
However, proactively seek work elsewhere if you don’t fit into their plans!
It’s more stressful to believe you’re trapped and wait for the other shoe to drop than to have difficult conversations and look behind the curtain of the unknown.
It’s better to have difficult conversations and look behind the curtain than to stay put and do nothing.
Identifying The Liable Party
Stress-related claims in workmen’s compensation are challenging to review and manage due to state-by-state leniency and ongoing court debates.
A trend towards liberal compensation has emerged, raising questions about whether employers and managers should bear the financial burdens of stress-related disabilities.
Moreover, mental illness is as debilitating as physical injuries, but its causes are more complex.
Tracing stress causes is difficult and controversial, and managers must document their handling of it.
As more lawyers specialize in stress-related suits, employers may face difficulties. Managers must be knowledgeable about stress symptoms, trends, workmen’s compensation laws, and court rulings.
More knowledge will not slow the trend but will help managers cope more effectively with employee claims.
Find A Supportive Employment Lawyer
In the current competitive job market, it is easy for employees to feel stressed and lost. However, knowing that you have a backup plan when things get out of your hands can always be a relief.
Therefore, find a reliable and supportive employment lawyer and ask for guidance. They can help you take the right steps and find ways that can improve your stressful work situations.