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Fri 21 Nov 2008

UNISON Scotland uncovers problems in management of workplace stress

Scotland’s largest public sector union UNISON, has published a report showing that the problem of workplace stress is not being tackled effectively in many workplaces. UNISON Scotland is calling for improved monitoring of stress at work, so that better anti-stress policies can be implemented and the HSE’s Stress Management Standards can be properly applied across the public sector.

The UNISON study revealed that, while most employers have good knowledge of the Health and Safety Executive’s Stress Management Standards and most organisations had policies to manage stress, many do not differentiate between stress caused by or at work and other forms of stress. Some do not even keep proper records of stress amongst their workers at all.

Most organisations had policies to manage stress, although a few were quite old and had clearly been drafted prior to the inception of the Stress Management Standards.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:
“Whilst there is evidence of action in response to the new HSE standards, many employers have outdated policies and poor monitoring. If you don’t know the extent of the problem you cannot take effective action”.

Meanwhile, UNISON members in a separate stress survey revealed some of the real problems they face at work.

44% of those asked said that they were never or seldom consulted on proposed changes at work” and nearly a third, 31%, said they never or seldom got support or encouragement from their line manager. Nearly quarter of those surveyed, 23%, say they seldom or never receive adequate training or development.

The survey also highlighted some very disturbing instances of workplace bullying and racist harassment of migrant workers, particularly in the care sector.

Dave Watson said:
“Stress at work can clearly be damaging to the health of the worker, and that is our immediate concern. But the problem of stress at work is also harmful to delivery of important public services.”

UNISON Scotland will be briefing their branches on the issues that need to be raised with employers to more effectively tackle stress at work.


Note to Editors:
The full report Management of Workplace Stress – A Survey is available at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/safety/index.html

The two-part study used Freedom of Information requests to discover how local authorities, health boards, universities and colleges, police forces, Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) and other public bodies were recording and dealing with stress; and surveyed UNISON members to find out how individuals felt about their own workplaces, and whether they appeared to be suffering from workplace stress.

For further information please contact:
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser 07958 122 409 (m)
Diane Anderson, Information Development Officer 0141 342 2842