Thank you. It is a difficult position and certainly not the only job which may be exposed to such issues. In general, this can be challenged in a number of ways, although it is difficult to say which is the strongest option and it may come down to a combination of a couple or more.
First of all, you can approach this under the law on stress. However, whilst stress in the workplace is becoming an ever-increasing problem, no specific legislation deals with it. The rights of employees in these circumstances are scattered across various legislation and common law examples.
A good starting point is to look at The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and related statutory instruments, which impose a general duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees. This includes a duty to undertake risk assessments and manage activities to reduce the incidence of stress at work. In addition, under common law an employer owes a duty of care towards its employees, the breach of which can amount to negligence.
Secondly you can approach this under flexible working legislation. The right to make a flexible working request applies to any employee who has been employed by the employer for at least 26 weeks.
Examples of the changes that can be applied for in a flexible working request include:
· A change to working hours
· Change to working location
When a formal request is made, an employer can only reject it on a limited number of grounds. These are:
· Planned structural changes
· The burden of additional costs
· A detrimental impact on quality
· The inability to recruit additional staff
· A detrimental impact on performance
· The inability to reorganise work among existing staff
· A detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
· Lack of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
So at least you have the right to make an application and then the employer has to formally consider it.
Finally, you can challenge this under the working time rules, where you can only be expected to work a maximum of 48 hours a week and even if you have opted out of this limit you can opt back in at any time without being penalised. Your contract may be for 32 hours but the additional time working will also be included. This could help you reduce your workload to an acceptable degree.
If all fails then your only option apart from an internal grievance is constructive dismissal, although you could try and negotiate a settlement to exit if necessary.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on constructive dismissal and how it can apply to you here, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you