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Acas Guide to Workplace Stress


Acas is offering a new advisory booklet to help employers and employees avoid work-related stress following new guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE's ‘Stress in the Workplace’ guidance puts the onus on employers to control stress indicators in the workplace. It encourages employers to complete a risk assessment, then to implement any necessary measures that are identified.

It means that for the first time employers can be held liable for not sufficiently responding to stress indicators in their work environment and in some cases, formal enforcement action such as serving an organisation with an Improvement Notice may occur.

The HSE standards are based on three factors and three risk factors. The three factors are:
* Demands: The work demands that are placed upon employees
* Control: The amount of control employees have over the work that they do
* Support: The level of support provided to employees by the organisation

The three risk factors are:
* Relationships: ensuring employees are not subject to bullying, harassment and unnecessary conflict
* Role: Ensuring employees are given a proper induction to their job
* Change: Ensuring that employees are made of aware of changes in an organisation and are given time and support to respond to these

Available on the Acas website the booklet gives practical advice to employers and employees to help them deal with the main causes of stress. It also gives advice on how to cope with the symptoms of stress - like anxiety and ill health.

John Taylor Acas Chief Executive said that stress was often a symptom of poor employment relations and could seriously affect productivity.

"Organisations who talk regularly with their employees and have sound systems and procedures in place for managing absence and sickness are much more likely to avoid work-related stress and to be able to deal with potentially stressful situations when they arise," he added.


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