Is stress a big issue at work?


  • The 2016 annual absence management survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and health firm Simplyhealth found that stress has once again topped the list of the most common causes of long-term absence, and is the second most common cause of short-term absence after minor illness.
  • According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000, a prevalence rate of 1,510 per 100,000 workers. The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2015/16 was 11.7 million days. This equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case and accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.
  • This is itself likely to be an underestimate. A survey by mental health charity MIND in 2014 found that, despite the high prevalence of stress at work, staff don’t feel comfortable telling their employer if stress has caused them to take time off work. Of those who said they’d taken time off sick with stress, just 5% said the main reason they gave their employer was that they were too stressed to work. The remaining 95% cited another reason for their absence, such as an upset stomach (44%) or a headache (7%).
  • According to the 2015/16 LFS, the main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
  • The TUC’s 2016 survey of more than 1,000 health and safety reps around the UK found that stress is their top health and safety concern with 7 in 10 reps (70%) citing it as a problem – up 3 points since the last survey in 2014 when 67% did so, and a higher proportion than in any previous TUC study. The TUC survey finds that concern over stress is higher in the public sector, most affected by government cuts, than the private sector. It is especially prevalent in central government (where 93% of reps cited it as a top five workplace hazard), education (89%) and health services (82%).
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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