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CIPD guide aims to help employers identify and prevent stress at work

The CIPD has launched a new guide highlighting the potential legal risks employers face if they ignore their health and safety responsibilities around workplace stress.

The guide, produced with support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Acas and the cross-government Health, Work and Wellbeing programme, spells out employers’ legal obligations in identifying and preventing stress at work.

The guide, Work-related Stress: What the Law Says, which was written by John Hamilton, head of safety, health and wellbeing at Leeds Metropolitan University, also highlights recent cases where employers have faced significant compensation payouts for failing to identify and prevent stress adequately. In addition, it provides advice on how employers can tackle stress through good people management.

Dame Carol Black, national director for health and work, said: "It is in employers’ interests to manage stress at work proactively and not just assume all staff are coping, particularly in a tough economic environment where many employees are under pressure to do more with less."

The CIPD’s quarterly July 2010 Employee Outlook survey showed almost half (49%) of staff have noticed an increase in stress at work as a result of the economic downturn.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser, CIPD, added: "Employers that fail to manage stress effectively risk losing key staff through high absence levels and employee turnover. They will also suffer from low staff morale and risk higher levels of conflict and accidents in the workplace. In addition, they potentially face costly personal injury claims, as well as damage to their employer brand."