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HSE Management Standards

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks.

Matters of stress at work fall with the HSE’s remit and they set down a set of best practice conditions for employers.

If present in an organisation, they:

  • Demonstrate good practice through a step-by-step risk assessment approach
  • Allow assessment of the current situation using pre-existing data, surveys and other techniques
  • Promote active discussion and working in partnership with employees and their representatives, to help decide on practical improvements that can be made
  • Help simplify risk assessment for work-related stress by:
  1. Identifying the main risk factors.
  2. Helping employers focus on the underlying causes and their prevention.
  3. Providing a yardstick by which organisations can gauge their performance in tackling the key causes of stress.

What are the HSE Management Standards?

The Standards cover six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health, lower productivity and increased accident and sickness absence rates.

The Management Standards are:

  • Demands[1] – This includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
  • Control[2] – How much say the person has in the way they do their work.
  • Support[3] – this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
  • Relationships[4] – This includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
  • Role[5] – Whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles.
  • Change[6] – How organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.


Does an Employer legally have to follow the Management Standards?

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities, as with any other hazard an employee may be exposed to whilst at work.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires an employer to take measures to control that risk.

So whilst the Management Standards are not in themselves law which employers have to follow, they are there to set down guidance for them to ensure that they do not fall foul of the legislation which covers matters of workplace stress.

No one has to have been harmed for an offence to be committed under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – there only has to be a risk of harm. The most important thing an employer is responsible to do is have policies in place to manage and control risk[7] in the workplace.

If an employer does not comply with a regulation relevant to their nature of work, they will ordinarily be deemed to be committing a criminal offence and could:

  • Get verbal or written advice
  • Get an improvement or prohibition notice[8]
  • Be prosecuted

Under civil law, if someone has been injured or made ill through an employer’s negligence, they may be able to make a claim for compensation. The employer can also be deemed responsible if an employee of theirs has themselves been personally negligent and caused injury or harm to someone else.

Whilst following the Management Standards is not a legal obligation, if an employer does follow them correctly then they are likely to be deemed to be adopting an approach that is considered suitable and sufficient.

The HSE’s website offers a number of free tool and guidance for free to help support companies with this.



What can I do if I think that my Employer hasn’t followed the Management Standards and I have suffered stress at work as a result?

Before deciding on whether making a claim is the best option for you, it’s important to seek some initial legal advice.

Here at Oakwood Solicitors we offer a free assessment and would be happy to discuss with you whether we thought there were merits to a possible action.

Further information

To see if you’re eligible to make a claim for stress at work, complete our online questionnaire here.

To find out more information about making a claim for stress at work, please see our overview page here.

To read about the specialist team here at Oakwood Solicitors Ltd, please see here.

How is my case funded?

There can be a number of ways to fund your legal fees. Subject to individual assessment, the most common method to fund a claim of this nature is by way of a Conditional Fee Agreement, which is often referred to as a ‘No-Win, No-Fee’ Agreement.

This means that if the claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay us anything towards our costs, subject to compliance with the terms and conditions of the agreement in place.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why use Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to make your Stress at Work case?

Claims for Psychiatric Injury arising from work-related stress is a very complex area of law. At Oakwood Solicitors, we have a dedicated and specialised team here to help.

With the majority of the team having a qualification in mental health (a TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems), we fully appreciate the difficulties those suffering with a mental health condition at work may face, particularly in the case of workplace stress.

Whether it’s an ongoing issue or a historic issue, we are here to help and will carry out a free assessment with no obligation to take forward a claim.


If you have questions about HSE Management Standards or believe that workplace stress is a contributing factor to your current ill-health and your employer isn’t listening, get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Meet the Head of Department

Jessica Rowson

Director and Head of Psychiatric Injury

0113 200 9779

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