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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49867
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My family have suffered 2 bereavements in the past 6 months.

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My family have suffered 2 bereavements in the past 6 months. After returning to work after the second bereavement my workload was increased. I appealed to my line manager saying that in my current mental state I did not feel able to meet the deadlines given. I was told that I had to meet the deadlines as other people at work were doing so.
I became very stressed and unable to cope and I have been off work with bereavement reaction for the past 3 weeks, with a doctors cert.
Do I have a case against my employer for causing my stress or at least for not supporting me in any way. And when I do return to work do my employers have a duty of care to me to safeguard my mental health john

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there?

Customer: Hi Ben. I am a teacher in a private school. Have worked there five and a half years.
Ben Jones :

Employers have certain duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act and under common law to take reasonable care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their staff. This would also include preventing or reducing the causes of workplace stress. If it is reasonably foreseeable that an employee may suffer from stress, the employer would be expected to take measures to try and reduce that or its effects.


Whilst employees that are subject to workplace stress can take formal action against their employer, this is not necessarily easy to do. There are two main claims that can be made: personal injury or constructive dismissal.


1. Personal Injury - the following requirements must be met:

  • The person must have suffered a recognised psychiatric illness, such as clinical depression.

  • The illness must have been caused by stress at work and no outside factors.

  • It must be shown that it was reasonably foreseeable by the employer that the employee would develop a mental illness (bearing in mind that an employer could assume an employee can withstand the normal pressures of working life)


2. Constructive dismissal - the following requirements must be met:

  • It must be shown that the employer is in breach of the implied term to provide a safe system of work, which has in turn led to a breach of the further implied term of mutual trust and confidence

  • The breach must be sufficiently serious to justify instant resignation

  • It is highly recommended to raise a grievance first to deal with this internally, with resignation only taking place in cases of continued breaches

  • This is only available to those with over 2 years' continuous service with their employer.


In the first instance, I would advise considering going down the grievance route first and only pursuing the formal claims above as a last resort.

Customer: Hi Ben,
Customer: Hi Ben , so they don't have to reduce my workload or accommodate me in any way on my return? John
Ben Jones :

No they do, if it is reasonably foreseeable that not doing so would affect your health and wellbeing

Customer: Ok last question. If it is foreseeable that not reducing my workload would affect my health, and they still don't make any changes, what then?
Ben Jones :

as explained above in my original answer - grievance, then either personal injury claim if the damage done is serious, or constructive dismissal

Customer: Thanks. You have been a great help.
Ben Jones :

You are most welcome, hope you get to resolve this to your satisfaction

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you