Tag Archives: HR

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety at Workplace- An Issue in Relations to Poor Management

dealing with stress at workplace nicholsons chartered accountants HR

The Health & Safety Executive has released figures regarding cases of stress, depression and anxiety. The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety was 488,000. The number of new instances was 224,000. The impact of these cases was 11.7 million lost days. These numbers are frighteningly high. From our experiences I have seen an increase in issues relating to this type of illness and therefore I am not at all surprised by the numbers.

It is tricky trying to work out what the causes actually are for these types of illness; what the employee believes to be the issue is often very different from what management believes. I tend to believe that a person’s perception is indeed their reality, whether or not that may actually be the problem.

In the majority of cases I come across, issues of management (i.e. poor management) are very often at the centre of the problem. The perception that an employee is being treated unfairly or simply being treated wrongly is pretty common, as is the ability of management to deal with the workload pressures of its employees. These can include the expectation of too much work in too little time, unreasonable and unrealistically tight deadlines and poor man-management skills.

In terms of health & safety issues it is the construction sector that usually leads the way when it comes to health and safety statistics, but this is not the case with stress issues. Hitting the headlines in this area is the otherwise low-risk service sector, in particular those employees working in public sector roles such as healthcare and teaching.

Please remember that stress is just as much a hazard in the work place as any other hazard. There needs to be a stress policy in force and stress should be considered in terms of risk assessing. The HSE are quite prepared to prosecute employers who fail to take reasonable steps to protect their employees.

As readers of previous HS Broadcasts will know, health & safety comes under criminal law, but there is also civil law to be concerned about and I need to state that there have been a number of successful civil claims brought against employers who have failed in their duties to their staff.

I have heard that health & safety inspectors, whether HSE or Local Authority are starting to look at occupational health and reports of work-related stress are taken very seriously. So your managers need to keep a very close eye on staff and take action when they see warning signs.

Click the link below to contact Andy to chat about dealing with stress at workplace.

Head of Human Resource at Nicholsons Chartered Accountants Lincoln HR


Dealing with Employee Rest Break Issue in HR Practice

issues with rest break in HR practice

Rest Breaks

A question that I am regularly asked concerns the law as regards rest breaks. The law is quite straightforward on this issue. If an employee works one minute more than 6 hours in a working day then they have a statutory right to a 20 minute, uninterrupted break. If however they work only 6 hours or less then they have no statutory entitlement to a break (although there may be a right contained within the contract of employment).

However this is only part of it, there are a few other factors to be considered;

  • If a working day exceeds twelve hours, only one rest break needs to be provided – there is no statutory entitlement to two 20 minute breaks.
  • Where the employee is entitled to this 20 minute break this should be taken at some point during the working day and not at the beginning or end of it. It cannot be used so that the employee can start later or finish earlier.
  • Please remember that you cannot force an employee to take any rest breaks indicated by the Working Time Regulations (WTR). If an employee chooses to work right through the 20 minute rest break, that is entirely down to the employee.

At a recent Tribunal case, the Judge was asked to consider rest break entitlements under the WTR, especially with reference to whether the employee must request the break or whether the employer is obliged to ensure that they are provided. This was the question before the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in Grange v Abellio London Limited 2016. Mr Grange (G) was employed by Abellio London Ltd (A) as a relief roadside controller to monitor and regulate A’s bus services.

G initially worked 8.5 hours per day, the intention being that he would take a half hour unpaid rest break during his working day, although he often found this difficult due to the nature of his work. On 16 July 2012 A e-mailed G stating that he was to now work straight through for eight hours, i.e. without any break, and leave 30 minutes earlier than he would have done under the previous arrangement. This is clearly in breach of the WTR.

G worked this way but in July 2014 raised a grievance claiming that A had failed to provide him with any statutory rest breaks. When this grievance was rejected, he brought a claim in the tribunal claiming that he had been denied his right to rest breaks under the WTR. The tribunal found that G had not been denied this right as he had never made an actual request to A for any rest breaks. G appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

The EAT held that an employer has a duty to provide a worker with a statutory rest break and confirmed that the rest break does not need to be requested. It went on to say that the entitlement under the WTR will be deemed to be “refused” if the employer puts in place any working arrangement that fails to allow a 20 minute rest break to be taken. However, please keep in mind that the Employee does not have to take the rest break if they do not wish to.

To know more about HR related issue, contact Andy Tomlinson or visit his LinkedIn page below.