Increased Control Over Workloads Shown To Decrease Stress

 In Stress at Work

Jo Moriarty, research fellow and deputy director of Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London, has recently published research revealing that the answer to the problem of Social Workers’ excessive workloads is not necessarily to reduce them but to just allow Workers’ increased control over the same.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

It is largely accepted that Social Workers’ workloads are in particular very high. At a time when the resources available to support people using social care services is decreasing, the impact on Social Workers’ themselves is proving significant. One ex-social worker interviewed by Jo Moriarty described how two of his colleagues also left their jobs to work for far less money stacking shelves in the supermarket chain Asda because the work related stress causing by the workloads had just become too much for them to cope with.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Jo Moriarty asked a sample of more than 1,150 Social Workers to keep a time diary for a week. The findings were that over half of the Social Workers worked more than their contracted hours, with many working the equivalent of an extra day at work each week. In addition, they all reported that this was typical.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Jo Moriarty comments that labour economists describe this increased need for workers to keep up with the increased speed and pressure of industry as ‘work intensification’. Historically, such working trends levelled off in the 1990s but new research suggests that it has begun to rise again.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

In social work in particular, the patterns of increased work intensification is very apparent as Social Workers are be required to do more with less. Government figures show an 11% rise in referrals to children’s social care, a reduction in expenditure on adult social care and an overall reduction in the amount of resources that social workers will be able to access to support individuals and their families.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Mark Wilberforce of the University of Manchester carried out a study of social workers and care managers in the context of analysing their workloads with the associated consequences of the same, including work related stress.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

This research suggested that it was a combination of high demand in terms of workload paired with low control of the workload which seemed to cause the most problems. This suggests that it is perhaps not so much about the workload itself but more about the lack of control so as to exercise discretion and make choices that is causing the associated work related stress.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

The issue of workloads and associated work related stress is not unique to the field of social work and affects almost every profession.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

From a legal perspective, employers have a duty of care to their employees to protect them from an injury to their health attributable to stress at work. There is a risk therefore that if employers fail to recognise and address such issues and subsequently fail in their duty of care, that they could be exposed to claims for compensation.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

In such situations where an employer has failed in their duty of care, those suffering with work related stress may be able to claim compensation for the impact matters have had on their health, the cost of any necessary treatment on a private paying basis and lost earnings from their employer.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

The legal position for those who have suffered or who are suffering with stress at work is complex.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Oakwood Solicitors are specialists in claims for work related stress.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

If you believe that you would benefit from legal advice on this matter or believe you may have a claim against your employer, please call us on 0844 499 9302 or email

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