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Stress at Work Claims

Overworked or under significant stress at work?

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The experts in Stress at Work claims

Stress can affect all aspects of your life, and as such, the symptoms can often be multi-dimensional. A little day-to-day stress is natural and most often necessary, but when it becomes prolonged and combines with other things like lack of sleep, it can have a huge effect on your health.

What do I do if I’m suffering from stress at work?

The most important thing before any financial claim is to prioritise your own health. If you are concerned about how you are coping with stress at work, we would encourage you to speak to your GP. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge regarding mental ill-health.

Before an issue escalates at work, try to talk to someone you can confide in who may be able to help. It’s not an employer’s job to diagnose or treat stress, but they will be able to direct you to internal support programs available or advise how they can help.

If you have been battling these issues quietly, explain the problems you are facing at work in a calm and professional manner to your employers. Nobody can read minds.

If you later consider making a claim, having a record of work issues raised can be useful. If you feel as though you have tried to bring them to your employer’s attention and are still suffering from stress at work, we would be happy to discuss the matter further with you.

Please get in touch for a free and confidential assessment if you feel as though you would benefit from some legal support.

Stress at Work Claims

Lockdown and working from home

You may have been ordered by your employer to work from home due to local lockdown enforcement. This sounds excellent to some, and indeed – some people have the flexibility to work from home already.

Where this can become an issue, though, is when that choice is removed. Some people don’t have adequate resources to work from home long-term.

This could be down to a lack of simple equipment, such as a suitable desk or chair. Such factors would be catered for in an office, as you would be provided with them and a workspace assessment will have been carried out.

Then there is the fact that some people require more physical interaction than others, or their home isn’t a suitable environment to work from long-term. This can have a lasting effect on mental wellbeing.

If such issues have been raised with your employer but you feel that their response has been unsatisfactory, it may be worth seeking legal assistance.

Do I have a claim?

High levels of stress over a period of time runs the risk of damaging mental health to the extent that medical intervention is required. Employers have a legal obligation to take measures to support both the physical and mental wellbeing of staff.

Common stress at work claims can include:

  • Workplace bullying – Physical or verbal abuse, being belittled, excluded, malicious pranks, aggressive and passive-aggressive treatment, etc.
  • Harassment at work – Threats, physical, verbal and sexual assault, attacks on ‘protected’ characteristics, and some of the behaviours listed under workplace bullying.
  • Lack of training – Pressure of doing a job and do it well, having been offered insufficient or zero training.
  • Excessive workload – Having far too much work for one person to manage. This can affect both and personal life.
  • Denial of rights – Such as toilet, coffee or lunch breaks, permission to attend medical appointments, unreasonably required to stay after hours, etc.
  • Unfairly applied policies or procedures – Selective enforcement of rules, unreasonable demands, or being singled out to do something when you are unable to do.
  • Having mental health issues ignored – When your employer has full disclosure about a mental health condition, yet they don’t make satisfactory adjustments to accommodate your needs within the workplace.

Compensation is pursued in the county courts against an employer who has failed in their legal duties to keep their employee mentally safe at work despite being aware that risks were present, causing harm to that employee’s health.

What are the criteria for a stress at work claim?

You must legally prove that you have not only suffered workplace stress, but that the stress meets the clinical criteria for a recognised psychiatric condition. If so, you would be able to claim compensation known as general damages – compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.

If the symptoms meet the criteria, the court uses guidance called the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines (JCG) as a starting point, which takes into account the following:

  • The injured person’s ability to cope with life and work
  • The effect on the injured person’s relationships with family, friends, and those with whom he or she comes into contact
  • The extent to which treatment would be successful
  • Future vulnerability
  • Prognosis
  • Whether medical help has been sought

Further reading:
When might I need (or consider) legal help regarding workplace stress? An employee checklist

Stress at Work Claims

How do I make a claim?

Before deciding if a claim is the best option for you, it’s important to seek initial legal advice. Oakwood Solicitors Ltd offers a free initial assessment and would be happy to examine any documents you have and discuss whether we think that action could be taken.

If you find a solicitor who believes that your claim has merits, it is important to consider the impact on your health that moving a claim forward may have. Litigation can be stressful and may have an adverse effect on your health.

We are not doctors, so we cannot give you medical advice – but we do have a duty to advise you that pursuing a claim will be a reminder of the stress that led to your psychiatric condition whilst it is ongoing.

The only outcome of a successful claim is financial compensation. You may see litigation as a way of getting answers, but most cases settle out of court, meaning that many questions may remain unanswered.

Doctors’ advice may be that you will only be able to make a good recovery from your illness once you can move on from your issues. Litigation may therefore delay your recovery. Any decision to proceed must be your own, in conjunction with medical advice.

If you agree to proceed with a claim, our team will be happy to explain the process in further detail with you.

How long do I have to make a claim?

Claims for psychiatric injury are subject to strict time limits, and you must have commenced proceedings within 3 years of your date of knowledge that you have suffered an injury as a result of work-related stress. Usually, we advise that this time limit runs from the first time you seek medical advice from your GP, but limitation is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

There may also be separate allegations that can be made under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 Act. Such allegations would be subject to a 6 year limitation period.

If you are unsure about your own time limit, we would be happy to help advise you if we are able to support you with a claim.

How much is my claim worth?

The section of the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines (JCG) covering psychiatric injury claims has four compensation brackets:

  • Severe – The most extreme of cases, where the outlook for someone’s recovery is extremely poor (£54,830.00 – £115,730.00).
  • Moderately severe – Symptoms amount to a disability affecting someone’s life in a permanent or long-standing way, preventing a return to comparable employment (£19,070.00 – £54,830.00).
  • Moderate – Symptoms have affected daily life, work, and relationships but where medical evidence opines that good progress towards recovery will be made by the time of trial. The extent that treatment will assist recovery, alongside future vulnerability to relapse is also assessed (£5,860.00 – £19,070.00).
  • Less severe – Usually where the duration of symptoms are less than twelve months, and the extent to which the symptoms have affected someone’s daily activities and sleep is low level (£1,540.00 – £5,860.00).

Most cases of this nature fall within the moderate or moderately severe categories. The court considers similar trialed cases to determine where a case may fall regarding the compensation bracket.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cases – the court has additional separate guidance from the above.
  • Special damages – Can cover out-of-pocket expenses such as lost earnings, travel, medication and treatment costs, etc.

Claims for both past and anticipated future losses can be made. This list is not exhaustive and is very case-specific.

Why use Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to support me with my stress at work claim?

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

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 from a mental health condition at work may face, particularly in the case of workplace stress.

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

Stress at Work Claims

Frequently Asked Questions

What is stress at work?

Stress at work, or work-related stress, is defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other demands placed on them.’

In its manifestation, stress is not an illness – it is a natural human reaction, but if this reaction is prolonged over a long period of time it can lead to a significant impact on someone’s mental health.

I have just been diagnosed with stress at work but stopped working at the company a while ago. Can I still make a claim?

Yes, you can.

It is not a requirement for someone making a claim to still work for the intended defendant company. Likewise, it is not a requirement for the employee to have to leave in order to make a claim.

Will I lose my job if I make a claim against my employer?

It is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee just because they are either considering legal action or taking any legal actions against them.

I'm self-employed or a contract worker. Can I claim for stress at work?

Not being directly employed by a company may not be a barrier to claiming for stress in the workplace. Introduced in the 1990s, the IR35 law states that freelancer or contract workers may be deemed to be employees in any event of what their contract says.

In some situations, we can consider if this may be applicable for a stress at work claim.

How long will my case take to run?

In theory, a stress at work claim could settle on any day from day one. But on average, cases are usually resolved within 24 months from when we are first instructed.

Would I have to go to court?

If the case did not settle, then ultimately the matter would proceed to Court where a Judge would make a determination. Most cases, however, do settle out of Court, so although this is an unlikely eventuality, we cannot rule it out as an impossibility.

If you do have any concerns about this during the process of your claim, then we would be happy to discuss this with you and address any concerns you may have.

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.

No hesitation in recommending

I have no hesitation in recommending Jessica Rowson, and the team at Oakwood, to anyone who may be struggling to cope with occupational stress, to contact them, in the first and immediate instance, should the need arise.

- Morgan

Thank you for the support we received

I would recommend Oakwood Solicitors. They were always professional and supportive during what for us was an emotional rollercoaster.

- Tony Snape

Jessica Rowson
Jessica Rowson - Director and Head of Psychiatric Injury
Jessica Rowson started as a Paralegal at Oakwood Solicitors in July 2010, qualifying as a Solicitor in September 2013. Following her qualifying as a Solicitor, Jessica established a niche department dealing primarily with Stress at Work claims. She was promoted to Assistant Head of Department in 2014 and took over as Head of Department in 2016, where she broadened the scope of the department to cover a wider range of claims focused on Psychiatric Injury. In December 2017, Jessica was promoted to Director following over seven years of service and dedication to the firm.

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