Stress is an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. All of us are busier than before and life appears to be moving faster all the time. We are all trying to do more within a 24 hour period with the result that many of us are becoming stressed and burnout as a result.
Our 24/7, on demand society has resulted in many of us working longer and harder than before which takes a toll on health and wellbeing. The outcome of this has been an increase in claims for work related stress.
Stress is a major issue for many workplaces within the UK.
If you have developed stress as a result of your job then you may be able to claim compensation. However this is a difficult claim to pursue to the fact that the onus is on you to prove that your employer failed in his/her duty of care.
Stress and your employer
You have to demonstrate that your illness has been caused by your working environment and that your employer failed to take adequate steps to protect you. You also have to prove that your employer was aware that you had stress and should have foreseen the consequences.
If there is sufficient evidence, e.g. psychiatric or GP’s report to support this then you have a greater chance of a successful claim.
The accepted situation is that unless an employer knows that an employee is stressed and is struggling to cope they will assume that there is not a problem.
If they are made aware then they should investigate the cause and look at ways of resolving it, for example, lighten the employee’s workload or provide counselling.
If none of these are provided then they may constitute a breach of duty of care.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to excessive pressure or too many demands placed upon it.
A small amount of stress is acceptable and enables us to perform at our best, e.g. giving a presentation. This is what causes the adrenaline to flow and heightens our senses, enabling us to complete whatever task we have been set.
But too much stress is counterproductive. It can cause a range of health problems - both physical and mental which can have lifelong consequences.
The problem with stress is that it affects people in different ways. What causes one person to feel under pressure and unable to cope another person thrives on. Some people perform better under pressure whereas others do not.
A lack of stress is almost as bad. We all need some form of stimulation but being in a situation in which there is little or no stimulation causes problems such as boredom and alienation.
Stress can be caused by an excessive workload, harassment or external issues e.g. financial. These then impact upon your ability to do your job and in some cases may leads to a nervous breakdown.
Making a claim for compensation for stress
To reiterate: this is a complex issue which can be time consuming and difficult to prove. So you need to find a personal injury law firm or solicitor who has experience in these types of claims and understands the complexities inherent to them.
They will have knowledge and understanding of the many issues surrounding your claim and will use this to advise you about the potential outcome of your case.
But before they do they will assess your claim to see if there is sufficient evidence, e.g. psychiatric report to support it. The more evidence you have the better.
Your claim should be handled with sympathy and care and all aspects of your claim should be discussed with you. This means keeping you informed at every step of the process.
The claims process is discussed in more detail in our making a claim for compensation section.
Time limit for claiming compensation for stress
Personal injury compensation claims have a 3 year time limit which starts from the date of the accident or illness. However you may wish to check with your lawyer about this to ensure that you apply within the time frame.
Personal Injury Guide
- Guide to Personal Injury
- What is personal injury?
- Types of personal injury
- Accident or negligence?
- Decisions about personal injury
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