The Court of Appeal has set out guidance on employees' claims of stress-induced psychiatric illness. It emphasises that the onus is on employees to alert management if stress-related problems occur, otherwise employers can generally assume they are up to the demands of the job. It has always been difficult for claimants to show that their illness was both foreseeable and caused by workplace pressures rather than, say, domestic or financial woes. But the occupational stress issue will not simply go away. Employees with stress-related conditions can potentially bring alternative legal claims that may be cheaper to pursue and easier to prove than a personal injury action - such as constructive dismissal or disability discrimination.
To protect themselves from liability, employers should offer a confidential advice service with counselling and treatment where necessary.
- Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.