This week’s letters

Hope is fading of justice for stress

I smiled when I read ‘Stress guidance cuts compensation woes’ (News, 12
February). I am a victim of stress, but was told by my barrister I was unlikely
to win my case for work-related stress because judges did not want to open the
floodgates on claims.

I was made ill by my manager over an 18-month period. I am still on
anti-depressants and receive counselling, but am hopeful of losing these props

I did not set out to claim compensation, all I wanted to do was expose my

My personnel career has been destroyed after having enjoyed it for over 20
years. No amount of money can wipe out the effects.

I know my employer was to blame, especially when I was offered an ill health
retirement pension and a large sum of money not to name it in the future. I
took up the offer.

My manager is still in the same HR role and avoided by most of the
workforce, and the company counsellor has never been busier.

You are really on your own when you fight a stress claim. It was never easy,
but it will become nigh on impossible to receive justice with the new
guidelines on stress.

Name and address withheld

I look forward to reading the acres of analysis that will undoubtedly follow
the appeal court decision on stress.

I will certainly welcome clarification of the contradiction between this
judgement – which seems to say it is down to employees to speak up if they are
feeling stressed – and the statutory duty on employers to carry out assessments
"of the risks to health and safety of employees to which they are exposed
while they are at work".

Like many, I was concerned about the increasing tide of stress-related
compensation claims. But I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this.

Ken Ritchie
Head of employee development, training and safety, Angus Council

Right image vital for local councils

I read with interest the views of Joan Munro of the Employers’ Organisation
for Local Government on the difficulties of recruiting and retaining local
government staff (Opinion, 5 February).

She appears to conclude that the answer lies in more money from the
Government to fund for learning and development.

Yet earlier in the article she pinpoints the need for a major campaign to
sell local government employment opportunities.

My experience as a recently retired personnel manager of a district council
was that while each authority can make inroads into improving the perception
potential recruits have of the business, it is an issue needing co-ordination
from the centre.

I recall that many years ago, the forerunner of the Employers’ Organisation
for Local Government put a great deal of effort into marketing material which
many of us used to good effect.

It would be interesting to know what portion of its budget the Employers’
Organisation for Local Government is pledging to ensure local government has
the right image to attract recruits.

Eric Lucas
Via e-mail

Rural companies need monitoring

In Essex – an area plagued by skills shortages – a three-bed semi costs
£95,000, and the advertised local hourly rate of pay for factory positions
ranges between £4.50 and £6.50.

But companies’ order deadlines still have to be achieved, so a lot of
overtime is worked. Eager to earn more, staff do not want to be limited to a
48-hour week.

Most people I have spoken to believe their employers cannot increase their
hourly rate sufficiently to increase the number of skilled people and reduce
the overtime required, in case they cannot maintain the current order book.

This is just the tip of the regulatory iceberg. There are companies in this
region which do not allow paid holiday during the first year of employment,
unpaid leave or paid sick leave. Others do not even adhere to safe working

If nobody is policing health and safety and employment regulations in rural
areas, then how can anyone even begin to address the 48-hour week and ensure
that the rules work for all.

Annette Smith
Halstead, Essex

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