Employers risking stress prosecutions

Most don't use upcoming anti-stress laws, inviting future court cases

Nearly eight in ten UK employers are risking prosecution by failing to implement guidelines on reducing workplace stress, according to new research.

The study, conducted by Croner, found that 79 per cent of bosses had not implemented Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘Management Standards’ on stress, which were introduced last year.

The survey suggests that many small businesses could be prosecuted when the standards become law later this year.

When the standards are enforced, firms will have to meet a percentage target of staff who think each standard is being achieved, or the employer will fail an assessment.

However, over half of those surveyed were unaware of the HSE’s standards, with just seven per cent taking any steps to implement them.

Stress has become a major problem for small businesses, with an estimated £3.7 billion a year lost due to days off taken by under-strain staff.

Britain’s ‘long hours culture’ has been blamed for the rise in workplace stress, with many entrepreneurs admitting they sacrifice social and family time in order to make their businesses a success.

Katherine Hunter, health and safety expert at Croner, said that companies are not doing enough to manage the key causes of stress identified by the HSE.

“Misconceptions about stress need to be challenged to make people aware that it is not a weakness on behalf of the employee, but a serious occupational health condition.

“Employers must take responsibility for stress caused by work and the working environment and adopt the attitude of ‘prevention rather than cure.’

“It’s in every employer’s best interests to understand stress and we are advising them to manage and monitor both working practices and the work environment to ensure they are not a health risk to staff,” she said.

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