Many UK businesses could be non-compliant with stress employment law
A large number of UK companies could be non-compliant with employment law by not completing risk assessments to protect employees from work-related stress, says workplace mental health organisation, Mente.
Currently, the law requires employers to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment for stress, and acting on it. If they have fewer than five employees, they are not legally required to write their risk assessment down. If they have five or more employees, they are required by law to write the risk assessment down and store it.
Mente report that many businesses simply do not realise that they have an obligation to complete a stress risk assessment. Meanwhile some believe that managing workplace stress is not a priority and that their time is better spent elsewhere.
However, the UK government, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and the World Health Organisation have all signalled that mental health and wellbeing is a priority that they will focus on, and so Mente advise that businesses should begin taking effective stress management actions quickly.
In fact, the HSE have recently published the criteria that it requires to begin an investigation into claims of work-related stress. If a complaint is made that meets their criteria, employers could receive a health and safety inspection. If any non-compliance is found, they could face lengthy and costly legal action.
Many of those operating in the workplace stress and mental health sector believe that the HSE may also begin to make random spot-checks on workplaces, to check for compliance on stress law. A potential inspection could involve checking that a stress risk assessment has been completed and is up to date, assessing workplace culture and practices, and monitoring health and sickness data.
Mente help businesses to manage stress and mental health through their digital platform. Mel Joseph, founder and director of Mente, has said “For a long time, organisations have seen mental health as secondary to physical health, in terms of safety and risk. But stress isn’t a mysterious and invisible danger to your business. It is a manageable safety hazard that you can take direct and effective actions towards to remain compliant. If businesses haven’t taken action so far, they must stop ignoring the problem and take it seriously.”
She continued, “To help businesses to remain compliant, we have recently launched a new free stress risk assessment tool that helps managers to come up with practical stress management actions. The tool covers all of the HSE’s Management Standards, which are six areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with high-stress levels.”
Previous research has found that poor mental health at work is widespread in the UK. A survey of 44,000 people by the mental health charity, Mind, found that half of workers have experienced a mental health problem. Further research by Deloitte has found that poor mental health has a huge economic cost, and costs UK businesses £42bn-£45bn each year.