Employers fear being sued by stressed staff

More than 80 per cent of UK employers feel vulnerable to being sued by
workers who have suffered workplace stress, discrimination, or bullying.

A new survey of 5,000 UK employers shows that 82 per cent feel vulnerable
about a worker suing them, with just 18 per cent of managers saying "it
would never happen here" and feeling "no risk at all".

The survey, by Work Stress Management, also reveals that 64 per cent of
employers believe the threat of legal action from employees for workplace
stress is "a very important issue" for their business, with a further
28 per cent saying it was "a fairly important issue".

In 2001, 6,428 companies were forced to pay damages for workplace stress,
with an average payout of £51,000 – a twelve-fold increase on the previous year.

CIPD adviser on employment relations Diane Sinclair said managers should
focus on stress prevention, adding that legal payouts were only the "tip
of the iceberg" of costs to employers.

"Resources devoted to preventing stress will save more in the long
run," she said.

New Court of Appeal guidance states: "Employers who offer a
confidential counselling and advice helpline are unlikely to be sued for
causing workplace stress."

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