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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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What are the legal implications of seek leave as the result

Customer Question

What are the legal implications of seek leave as the result of "work stress/burnout"? What are the legal means of preventing overload in the future?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. Company I'm working for as an IT consultant (OpenText EMEA region) seems to be very "lay back" with my situation. For a quite a period of time; few years; based on the skill shortage I have been continuously doing 7.5 days a week; mostly under pressure in a stressful circumstances. An this is an average including public and private holidays. As a result of overworking without proper recovery time I run into a classic burn out. I have been signed off by GP on a seek leave for a total period of 10 weeks stating "work stress" as a reason.
I'm concerned that company does not have any plan "to fish from a pond" overworked people which may lead to similar situation in the future. I have a feeling that my circumstances are attempted to be "swiped under a carpet". Not to mention that the situation affected me also financially.
I'm trying to understand my options; perhaps take legal help.Regards,Andy
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Added letters exchanged with company HR to date. I’m not sure what should I expect.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
You said you're a consultant - are you self-employed?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm a full time employee since Oct 2004.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** my colleague has asked me to assist with your query as it is more my area of law. 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. As no standalone claim exists for being exposed to stress, the affected employee has the following options open to them if they were going to challenge their employer over this: grievance, constructive dismissal or personal injury claim. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you with specific details on how to approach each of the mentioned steps, 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, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46173
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for stepping in. It seems to be unjust that a given employer befits from revenue at ones expense, "squeezes like a lemon" just to throw away when all juices run dry. Disappointing at best.Leaving drama aside:
What should I brace myself for?
How should I handle the whole situation?My past enthusiasm - all gone; returning to work I'm finding quite repulsive.Regards,Andy
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks. As mentioned you have 3 main options, which can be summarised as follows:
1. Grievance - this is a formal internal complaint, following which the employer is obliged to investigate the issues and deal with them in an appropriate manner. It should always be the first step in trying to bring the problem to the employer's attention and to try and reach a resolution.
2. Constructive dismissal - this occurs where the employee resigns because they feel they were left with no other option in the circumstances. Further considerations include:
• It must be shown that the employer had acted in breach of the implied terms to provide a safe system of work or through their actions (or inactions) had broken the mutual trust and confidence
• The breach relied on must be sufficiently serious to justify instant resignation
• This claim is only available to those with at least 2 years' continuous service with their employer and must be made within 3 months of resigning.
3. Personal Injury - this is a claim for negligence against the employer. Further considerations include:
• Some recognised illness must have been suffered. This could include clinical depression, specific trauma stress, a physical injury (e.g. stroke), etc.
• The illness must have been caused directly by the employer's negligence, such as failing to appropriately deal with managing stress in the workplace
• The illness must have been reasonably foreseeable - for example if the employee experienced one breakdown, that would have indicated to the employer that there is a problem and that further issues could arise if things were not dealt with appropriately.
• The time limit to claim is 3 years from the time the injury was suffered.
In the first instance, I would advise going down the grievance route first and only consider pursuing legal action as a last resort if it is evident that the matter cannot be resolved in any other way.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your advice. I will need to check and collate internal information regarding grievance process and translate onto "average Joe" language.Regards,Andy
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
No worries, in simple terms it is just a written complaint sent to the employer about issues you are experiencing at work
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Believe or not, I'm 51 and this will be my first complaint...Regards,
Andy
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
That's not a bad thing! But if it has to be done then so be it
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
You are welcome

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