According to the HSE, stress in the workplace accounts for over a third of all new incidences of ill health, with each case of stress in the workplace, depression or anxiety related ill health leading to an average of 24 working days lost per person affected. In 2011/12, a total of 10.4 million working days were lost to stress in the workplace, depression and anxiety.
The 2011/12 Labour Force Survey of Self-reported Work-related Illness prevalence estimate indicated, that around 1,400 per 100,000 employed in Britain believed that they were experiencing stress in the workplace at a level that was making them ill. According to HSE estimates in 2007, the cost of stress to British industry was £530 million a year, while the cost to society as a whole could be as high as £3.75 billion.
Successful compensation cases include, a council administrative assistant who fell ill with anxiety and depression – she was awarded £157,541 after a county court judge heard in evidence she had to work ‘grossly excessive hours’ [Jones v Sandwell Metropolitan District Council; see Key Documents].
The well-being of all employees is essential to both their physical and mental health. Whilst pressures outside of work can affect health and well-being, an employer should take reasonably practicable steps to control the factors within work that may affect the health of employees. They should do this by promoting a good, supportive working climate and environment, and a culture of openness, where employees concerned about their well-being can access appropriate support.