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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 55313
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I have been off work since 2nd Feb 2018 after collapsing at

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I have been off work since 2nd Feb 2018 after collapsing at work. Originally treated for vertigo / labyrinthitis but an MRI showed there has been a stroke but cannot date it. My role is very stressful and I am scared to return in case this happens again. I have been paid the 3 months sick leave on my contract and they have agreed to extend to a further 1 month on full pay. I have attended a counselling assessment they have set up and also an Occupational Health assessment last week. This report is very damning and I have asked for amendments. I do not feel I can return to work with my employer as I do not trust them not to pile the same stress on me again. I have many examples of the stress over the last 3 years in particular and I have worked there for 10.5 years. I want to know if I have a case to lodge a grievance and ask for an exit settlement. Also if I am still within the time frame required by ACAS to do this as I was unable to consider this previously due to the anxiety I have been feeling etc. Many thanks

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Have you spoken to your employer about this?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I have seen employee relations. I have not told them I feel unable to return at all yet.

OK thank you for your response. Leave it with me for now and I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you

Many thanks for your patience. Stress is an ever-increasing problem in today’s busy workplaces and is defined by the Health & Safety Executive as the "adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them".

From a legal perspective employers have a duty under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 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 unreasonable levels of stress, the affected employee has the following options open to them if they were going to take this matter further:

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

· The employee must accept that breach and resign in response to it

· This claim is only available to employees 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 persisting with heavy workload despite complaints it was unreasonable

· The illness must have been reasonably foreseeable - for example if the employee experienced one breakdown, it 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 considering formal legal action as a last resort, if it is evident that the matter cannot be resolved in any other way.

You would still be able to pursue this with ACAS if you were to resign and claim constructive dismissal as the time only starts to run from the date your employment terminates.

Please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the steps you need to follow if you were to make a claim. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for the above.Should I raise the grievance myself or have a lawyer do this for me? I would rather not have to deal with work myself if possible. The last time I met with them it made me so anxious that I had a panic attack later that day.

A grievance would be raised by yourself, as it is an internal process the employer does not have to deal with a lawyer over it. However, if you wanted to use a lawyer you can request the company reply to them, as your representatives, although I think it is a bit of an overkill as you would pay out quite a lot just to have a grievance heard internally – at least save the money for when you may potentially need a lawyer if this goes to court or tribunal