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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50165
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have been off sick with depression for nearly three months

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I have been off sick with depression for nearly three months through stresses at work, I have expressed that i want to return to work on reduced hours to help me cope better with the stress. My manager said that that may be a problem. What are my rights?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Have you been told why it may be a problem?

Customer: She said something about the fact I do nights but she was not clear
Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

Customer: Sorry Ben, my name isXXXXX have worked in the nhs for nearly 17yrs and have done nights for over 10yrs
Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

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.


In addition, if your depression is serious enough or will last for long enough (more than a year) it will amount to a disability in law. As such you will have extra protection under the Equality Act 2010 and the employer will have a duty to make reasonable adjustments.


What amounts to ‘reasonable adjustments’ can have a wide interpretation and often depends on the individual circumstances of the employer, their business, the potential impact on other employees, the available resources, etc. Whilst legislation does not currently provide specific examples of what adjustments can be made, the following are examples that have been considered reasonable in case law over time:

  • making adjustments to work premises;

  • allocating some of the employee’s duties to others;

  • transferring the employee to fill an existing suitable vacancy;

  • altering the employee’s hours of work;

  • allowing the employee to be absent during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment connected to their disability;

  • acquiring or modifying specialist equipment;

  • providing supervision or other support.


So the above is what you can use to discuss your situation with the employer and try to find a way forward.

Customer: What can happen if an agreement cannot be found that satisfies both parties?
Ben Jones :

you can consider the internal grievance procedure first, if that is fully followed and still no joy then it is down to some more drastic options, such as resignaiton and constructive dismissal claim

Customer: So I can claim for dismissal even though I resign or I only if I am dismissed?
Ben Jones :

if you are dismissed you claim unfair dismissal, if you resign you claim constructive dismissal. Also at the same time you can make a claim for disability discrimination if your condition amounts to a disability

Customer: Thank you Ben you have given me something to work on
Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:

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