Local authority HR unprepared for stress threat

Two-thirds of local government HR professionals believe they do not have the
knowledge and skills to help their authorities reduce stress in the workplace.

This is a key finding in a survey carried out by Zurich Municipal which also
reveals that nearly four out of 10 respondents expect the number of
stress-related compensation claims to rise. This is despite a Court of Appeal
ruling earlier this year which was expected to make such claims easier to
defend.

Following the ruling, the Appeals Court issued guidelines that state
stressed staff must raise the issue with their employer before resorting to
legal action. It also states that employers offering confidential counselling
services to staff are unlikely to be found guilty in stress compensation
claims.

One in six of the 50 HR professionals surveyed by Zurich Municipal think
liability for work-related stress is the most important employment law issue
facing employers.

Francesca Okosi, president of the Society of Personnel Officers in Local
Government, said she was concerned by the findings.

"The ruling recommendations can help manage the issue of stress, but
risk assessments, correct procedures and follow-ups are all key elements in
eliminating workplace stress and form the basis of a healthy working
environment," she said.

"But it is concerning that a significant proportion of respondents
didn’t think their authorities had the structures in place to deal with
stress."

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