Stress causing headaches for North employers | 17 March 10

WORKPLACE stress is becoming a major headache for companies in the region, according to the organisers of a series of workshops on the issue.

More than 100 HR managers and business leaders from across the North have already signed up to attend The Stress Factor – a series of half-day courses on the practical and legal implications of work-related stress.

The response has even surprised the joint organisers of the events, training and development company Protostar and law firm Ward Hadaway.

Michael Coates, managing director of Durham-based Protostar, said: “We have been overwhelmed with the demand for these workshops.

“I think the response shows that businesses are starting to realise that work-related stress is a major issue and that just because one person thrives on pressure does not mean that it won’t have catastrophic medical implications on someone else.”

Harmajinder Hayre, employment partner at Ward Hadaway, which has offices in Newcastle and Leeds, said businesses were also becoming increasingly concerned about the potential legal implications of the problem.

He said: “Increasingly, organisations want to know where they stand if an employee suffers from work-related stress.

“While there have been relatively few successful claims to date associated with workplace stress, those that have succeeded, led to significant financial penalties for the employers involved.”

The Stress Factor takes attendees though the key practical and legal aspects of the issue, covering topics including undertaking a stress risk assessment, putting in anti-stress measures and dealing with employees who do still suffer from stress.

The workshop also focuses on the very real financial implications of workplace stress.

Michael Coates explained: “Nearly half a million employees report work related stress issues to their GP each year and the average time they take off form work is 30 days, which costs UK businesses £4bn per year.

“Despite these facts and that many managers have suffered from stress, there is still a stigma related to it and this means it does not get assessed and rectified as thoroughly as a risk of fire or physical injury.”

The Stress Factor is the latest in a programme or workshops organised by Protostar and Ward Hadaway.

Previous topics covered have included dealing with the practical and legal implications of social media websites such as Facebook.

The popularity of The Stress Factor and the issues which it has highlighted has meant that Protostar and Ward Hadaway will now hold a further session on disability discrimination in April.

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