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New ways of working can cause employee stress

29 Jun 2010

Recent research shows that modern working practices can put as much stress on employees’ family relationships as an additional 120 hours’ work a year.

The ‘Market, Class and Employment’ study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, showed that factors like team-working, performance-related pay and an emphasis on fulfilling individual potential can be detrimental to the well-being of employees.

Top of the list is computerised monitoring of people’s work, which now covers an astonishing 52% of UK workers, mainly of those employed at 20% of largest workplaces.  According to the report, this is leading to a sharp increase in work-related stress reflected in feelings of exhaustion and anxiety.

According to Sarah Hall, a Partner in Hay & Kilner’s Employment team:

 “For employers, there’s clearly a fine balance to be achieved – between gaining the productivity benefits of a well-monitored, trained and managed workforce and damaging their effectiveness through stress-related burnout.

In addition, employers need to be aware of the potential for legal action by employees who believe they can prove that their employer has contributed to ill-health or hardship through recklessly inducing stress with ill-conceived working practices.  It is certainly worthwhile talking to an experienced employment lawyer before imposing new ways of working practices on staff.”

Any employer keen to discuss their plans for changed working practices should contact Sarah Hall, Partner in Hay & Kilner’s employment unit on 0191 232 8345 or email sarah.hall@hay-kilner.co.uk

Please note:
This article is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. Please contact us to discuss how the contents of the article may affect you.