FAQ: Stress management legislation

Can you help me to identify pieces of legislation which impose obligations on employers to provide sufficient resources etc. to ensure that employees can carry out their tasks particularly in relation to reducing the risk of stress related illness.

Whilst there is no legislation directly related to stress, there are some Management Standards which can be used as guidance.

These Management Standards define the characteristics, or culture, of an organisation where the risks from work-related stress are being effectively managed and controlled and cover six key areas of work design that, if not properly managed, are associated with poor health and wellbeing, lower productivity and increased sickness absence. In other words, the six Management Standards cover the primary sources of stress at work. In summary, these are:

  • Demands – includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment.
  • Control – how much say the person has in the way they do their work.
  • Support – the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues.
  • Relationships – this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour.
  • Role – whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that they do not have conflicting roles.
  • Change – how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation.

In essence, The Management Standards represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health wellbeing and organisational performance. They demonstrate good practice through a step by step risk assessment approach whilst allowing a review of the current situation using surveys and other techniques. In addition, they promote active discussion and working in partnership with employees to help decide on practical improvements that can be made and help simplify risk assessment for work-related stress by. This is achieved by:

  • identifying the main risk factors for work related stress;
  • helping employers focus on the underlying causes and their prevention; and
  • providing a yardstick by which organisations can gauge their performance in tackling the key causes of stress.

The following websites may also be of interest: