From 4 April 2016 the burden of proof will be on the employer’s shoulders regarding stress. Employers (among other entities) will need to be able to prove they take reasonable care of their worker’s stress levels. Current legislation puts the burden of proof on the employee.
This means waiting for a worker to claim they are stressed before doing something about it will become a risky strategy. From 4 April 2016 when the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 takes effect, you’ll need to be able to prove you actively manage stress in your workplace (no matter the business size). Fines of 50K to 100K and for corporations up to 500K can be imposed for simply not having an active system to manage this risk.
What’s involved in being proactive about managing your worker’s stress levels?
- Firstly, assess the risk of stress in your workplace
- Next, based on the risk set up a system to actively manage stress according to the needs of your workforce, for example provide well-being education (time management skills, eating well, getting good sleep, resilience, exercise), encourage people to take their holidays, manage highly negative people, manage bullying and harassment, know and watch out for signs of stress in your people, monitor absenteeism and so on
- Then, monitor the success of the stress management system – has there been a reduction in the risk factors you’d identified i.e. absenteeism etc. Make changes where needed.
- Schedule to review the stress management system from time to time, to ensure it is fit for purpose
Benefits of Actively Managing Stress at Work
- Improved productivity and Bottom-line
An Australian study has found the healthiest employees work approximately 143 effective hours per month compared to just 49 effective hours from the least healthy.
- Reduced Costs
It will help reduce the costs associated with absenteeism and high staff turnover. The Health and Productivity Institute of Australia found that workplace health programs result in a 25 per cent decrease in absenteeism.
- Avoid High Fines
Come 4 April 2016 you’ll need to be proactive with your stress management to avoid at a minimum non-compliance offenses costing between 50K to100K, and for corporations up to 500K – this can be imposed even if no employee made a stress claim. It gets even more expensive if your workers are exposed to the risk of developing mental illness (for example) or other medical conditions from work related stress.
Need help setting this up?
Contact Juliette Smale for developing a fit for purpose stress management system for your workplace phone 021 444 121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org