Clevedon Town Council

Work related stress Policy

BACKGROUND

Work related stress is unfortunately a reality for some Town & Parish council employees. Work related stress can be caused by an adverse reaction to excessive pressure or other demands experienced by an employee’s working conditions and environment.

Where an employee has a pre existing susceptibility to psychiatric illness or has personal problems which are not work related that are known to the council, it is harder for a claim in any breakdown attributed to stress at work to succeed. This is because it is harder for the employee to prove that the employer’s breach of their duty of care to the employee was foreseeable and caused their injury. However if an employee has communicated that he/ she is unhappy at work because of the volume of work or poor working relations with colleagues and managers, and poor communications generally, these are likely to be indication of impending harm to health that are sufficiently clear for an employer to realise that support and remedial action is necessary.

Work overload can occur when a person is allocated a great deal of work, but insufficient resources (in terms of ability, staff, time, or equipment) to cope with it. There are two types of work overload. Quantitative overload is having too much work to do in the time available. Qualitative overload is work that is too difficult for the employee to do. This may be because it is a new area and they have not received appropriate training, they do not have the intellectual or physical capacity to do the work or because they have been set an impossible task (regardless of resources or ability).

Workers faced with work overload may try to cope by working excessive hours, which may lead to health problems and problems outside work. Working excessive hours can lead to fatigue, which in turn can impact on performance thus creating a “vicious circle” of more time and effort being put into the work, with less being achieved. Working at a fast pace and the need to resolve conflicting priorities is associated with a higher risk of psychiatric disorder, poor physical fitness or illness. An example would be several people giving the same person large amounts of work with short deadlines.

In cases where an employee has suffered a breakdown resulting from stress at work and the council makes insufficient effort to manage the employee’s return to work or fails to allocate sufficient resources to it, the employee is likely to have a good chance of success if the employee brings a claim after a subsequent breakdown. The employee can argue that the council should have been aware of their vulnerability because of the first breakdown. If the employee returns grudgingly and the council and colleagues have made reasonable efforts to facilitate their return to work, a claim is unlikely to succeed.

Positive action should be taken in situations where it appears that stress may be an issue such as providing training or reallocating some of the employee’s duties if possible to avoid stress claims. The Town Councils should strive to achieve a positive work culture.

 

 

 

POLICY That Clevedon Town Council will:-

1.    Ensuring that work related stress and health issues are treated seriously and responded to positively.

 

2.    Good, open, communication between employees and between employees and management

 

3.    Consulting staff in decisions that may affect them

 

4.    Supporting staff emotionally and practically

 

5.    Encouraging staff to “buy into” their work, that is, they understand what they are trying to achieve and are made to feel proud of their achievements

 

6.    Recognising problems and solving them promptly

 

7.    Discouraging working long hours/ taking work home