Rising Emotional Strain and Stress Among Local Government Employees
It is clear that in a time of austerity cuts and diminishing resources in local government it is the workers that are bearing the brunt of this both emotionally and physically as employees are tasked with attempting to maintain services at the level expected of them by the public despite cuts.
In a recent survey undertaken by the Guardian newspaper of those working in the public services generally it was found that 93% of the respondents felt stressed at work some or all of the time. More specifically it was found that 95% of local government workers surveyed reported feeling stress at work.
Local government employees have attributed symptoms of anxiety, depression, sleepless nights, irritability as well as high blood pressure and recurring infection to their working environment. This is supported by statistics showing that 38% of local government workers have sought medical advice and or counselling in respect of work related stress and further an increased number of 65% had spoken to a manager about stress.
Local government employees are working with the most vulnerable in society which clearly takes an emotional toll. Disheartened staff cling on to the fact that they do a job that makes a difference in society however one Mental health worker was of the opinion that their employer took the continuous unpaid overtime for granted knowing that staff would not place their client’s safety and wellbeing at risk.
Further in a background of years of public sector pay freezes together with redundancies, increasing workloads and decreasing grants it was found in the survey undertaken by The Guardian that 81% of local government employees work beyond contracted hours believing it hard to say no in the face of job insecurity.
Further the survey revealed accusations of bullying within the work places as well as poor management is adding to the stress placed on local government employees. In response to this Roger Philips, vice chair of the Local Government Associations resources board states “Councils have implemented a range of initiatives to create and sustain workplaces that are respectful, fair and non-discriminatory” and states that this is subject to ongoing assessment
Whilst initiatives to protect employee wellbeing are increasing in council work places such as employee advice lines, mental health support, flexible working, volunteering schemes and peer mentoring this may not go far enough.
Worryingly, despite the above it remains that 90% of those surveyed accepted that stress is a fact of life for public sector employees.
It is apparent that work related stress is on the increase in the UK and it would appear to us at Oakwood Solicitors, that until such time that this issue is addressed by employees this will continue to rise. Oakwood Solicitors have acted, successfully, on claims for numerous employees of local authorities in claims for stress at work.
Oakwood Solicitors are specialists in claims for work related stress.