Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2014-2015, announced by the European Commission, which aims to tackle stress in the workplace, and other similar schemes including Target depression in the workplace. Estimates vary, but current statistics suggest that the global cost of work-related stress to the UK economy is somewhere in the region of £70-100 billion per annum, including healthcare fees. Employers are subject to numerous statutory, contractual and common law obligations, but pressure is mounting on them to do more to control stress in the workplace.Stress has become a major concern for UK employers. It is now the second most common cause of absence from work and figures continue to rise. Today is World Mental Health Day 2014, a good time for employers to look at their legal obligations towards staff who are suffering from stress. In response to rising levels of stress at work, a number of initiatives have been launched. These include the
Employers’ legal obligationsThere are a number of legal obligations that an employer must comply with, including:
- The Equality Act 2010 – in particular, that an individual should be not treated less favourably as a result of a protected characteristic. Mental ill health can constitute a disability under s.6 of the Act "if the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the individual’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". Typically, if an individual has suffered with significant mental health issues for more than 12 months, they may be considered to be disabled within the meaning of the Act.
- Common law duty of care – an employer has a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent an employee from suffering psychiatric illness as a result of their employment. The exact scope of this duty is a complex legal issue but, at all times, employers should act reasonably and ought to consider the Health and Safety Executive's publications Managing the causes of work-related stress and Tackling work-related stress (2001).
- Contractual o