Stressed employees fear being sacked

Workers who admit to their managers to feeling stressed or depressed fear being forced out of their jobs, research finds.

A study by charity Mind reveals that one in five people believe that if they mentioned their stress levels they would be put first in the firing line.

The charity also finds that employees’ fears aren’t unfounded, with 22 per cent of those who had disclosed a mental health problem in a previous job saying they had been fired or forced to quit.

Some 41 per cent of respondents are currently stressed or very stressed in their jobs – making work more stressful than money worries, marriage and relationships or health issues.

Two in three had been put under more pressure by management since the downturn, a third feel stressed by a reduction to budgets in their workplace, and seven out of ten say their boss would not help them cope with stress.

Penny Hunt, an employment law specialist at Davies Arnold Cooper, a member of the Contact Law network says, ‘Employers are under a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for their employees. In practical terms this means that managers should be on the look out for the warning signs of stress and should discuss with their employee what can be done to help.

‘It is in employers’ interests to work with, rather than against, employees who are suffering from stress, as failure to do so can represent a legal claims risk.’

Sandi Mann, senior lecturer in health psychology at the University of Central Lancashire adds, ‘Admitting you are stressed is seen as admitting you can’t cope and if you are perceived as not being able to cope, you risk being viewed as unable to do your job effectively. In a lot of industries, stress is seen as weakness – and in today’s climate it is the fittest who are surviving.

‘Businesses are under pressure themselves and are probably less tolerant of stress than they might have been in the past – easier to get rid of the job-holder than to get rid of the stress.’

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