Psychiatric stress - an unacceptable cost to employers

Barrett, Brenda (2008) Psychiatric stress - an unacceptable cost to employers. The Journal of Business Law (1) . pp. 64-82. ISSN 0021-9460 [Article]


Purpose - To consider the legal ramifications of stress in the workplace and whether the guidance offered by the Court of Appeal's propositions in Sutherland v. Hatton [2002] and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Management Standards could help employers reduce the costs to them of psychiatric stress.
Design/methodology/approach - Describes how awareness of work-related stress has increased since the late 1980s and how liability for work-related psychiatric injury has developed through the tort of negligence. Examines the usefulness of the propositions set down by the Court of Appeal as to when an employer can be liable for negligently causing an employee to suffer psychiatric stress injury, and of the HSE's Management Standards.

Findings - Suggests that the problems for today are to determine how much of the stress manifest at the workplace is actually due to work and how much to the vulnerability of employees as a result of their life outside the workplace, and how much workplace stress employers can avoid. Regrets that it is not clear how far the two sources of guidance examined can contribute to the reduction of stress or assist employers to make their workplaces less stressful. Concludes that if it is indeed the case that a significant proportion of the problem cases that surface at the workplace is really attributable to more general factors in a 21st century lifestyle, then employers are bearing more than a fair share of the cost of a problem that is endemic in society.

Originality/value - Offers a comprehensive (and sympathetic) overview of employer liability for psychiatric injury caused by workplace stress.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 9686
Depositing User: Brenda Barrett
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2013 05:29
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:25

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