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Work-related stress - what the law says (discussion)

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by fantastischfish, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I found @GLsghost thread very poignant at the moment and @TheoGriff 's comments very interesting. They are, of course, right that if all teachers who are currently suffering could somehow find the strength to make the necessary steps to force heads, governors and those in power to ACT it would be beneficial for all.

    But that problem is that people suffering with WRS and other anxieties are rarely, I suppose, in any frame of mind to be able to take such steps, however supported in law they might be. I know that when I suffered WRS (thankfully only in its acutest form for a very short time before I felt able to 'cope' again) I could have spoken up to management. I was treated as though the cause of my stress was my own fault with my lack of resilience and my untidy desk cited as caused of my WRS, rather than symptoms of it.

    So I thought that @GLsghost's thread (stickied above) warranted a discussion thread - naturally kept separate from the useful info provided in the sticky so that those in need of legal info can find that easily without wading through our chatter!

    My question is, I guess, what can we do? How to we empower teachers to act? The law may be on our side and evidence seems to suggest that there are many of us suffering the same stress; we can't all be thwarted by our inability to keep a tidy in-tray, surely!? But in spite of our numbers, we just don't feel able to stick our heads up above the parapet.

    How can something practical and useful done to create solidarity of action against stress? How can we ensure that the teacher presenting the letter to their headteacher, notifying them of potential damage to their health caused by the workplace, won't simply be bullied out?

    Hope this wasn't too rambling!

    Eva x x
    rkhanmer and johnberyl like this.
  2. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    If this is the sort of response that teachers are going to get as result of making perfectly reasonable requests then I don't see many letters being sent.

    The toxicity and bullying that is prevalent in many schools is utterly shocking.
    Mrsmumbles and johnberyl like this.
  3. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    If I'd had a client come to me to complain about this I would be suggesting raising a grievance. I can see a potential automatic unfair dismissal claim in there (if it came to a dismissal). It is automatically unfair to victimise someone for asserting their statutory rights.
    Mrsmumbles and johnberyl like this.
  4. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    As I have mentioned before I wrote to my HT last year about stress and workload; I was threatened with misconduct but eventually sent to OH once the union were involved. The OH report was ignored. I got another job out of teaching and resigned but also wrote another letter to the HT before I left complaining about stress and why I'd resigned.

    I must say I am very tempted to publicise the exchange of correspondence.
    johnberyl likes this.
  5. whodareswins

    whodareswins New commenter

    I asked for help from the HT because of harassment and bullying from senior colleague which was resulting in me sustaining both poor mental and physical health.HT aware of problems and decided to organise a meeting between the 3 of us. Senior colleague took over 2 weeks to decide that she would not be attending. HT said there was nothing she could do then so I had a meeting with HR and herself and voiced my concerns. Senior colleague then decided either a) I needed putting back in to place because I had tried to stand up to her or b) she had a free rein to do anything because the bullying intensified. So much for duty of care, the aftermath resulting from that lack of help has been catastrophic and has changed my life.
  6. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    whodareswins - awful situation but it seems that the bullies are winning in some schools.
  7. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    It all needs publicising that's what. Try taking a small percentage of the cases/posts on here and get them into the public domaine. Maybe if the unions were not so useless and busy facilitating unqualified people into the classroom to "teach" they could lead on this. There is far too much of expecting their members to stick their necks out in an environment where the teaching staff are extremely vulnerable, to face the strongest probability of their situation being made worse by their actions. Whatever happened to "strength in numbers" or "get the strength of the union around you"?
  8. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Very similar thing happened to me. They just close ranks. My union rep was disgusted and horrified by the disgraceful behaviour of line manager, HT, HR idiots, lots of them. They know how hard it is for a busy teacher to gather all the evidence needed to prove this bullying is going on. It seems that most schools are suffering from this and to be honest, although I love teaching, I am very suspicious of most colleagues now. Anyone above even line manager level now is very keen to hang on to their job and justify their salary at the expense of the classroom teachers'. Law of the jungle seems to apply now.
  9. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    This is never going to happen until teachers set up their own union. The current ones cannot or will not grow a backbone. The current law doesn't help either. Courts are full of harassed employees trying to get justice. Britain is frankly a pretty shoddy employer, and I'm sure it's even worse in other countries. Doctors have a stronger union, and one main one. They've got Hunt to backtrack because unity is strength and they could logistically pull off a strike, with out her medics such as GPs and consultants covering them to ensure patient care continuity and hopefully keep the public reassured. We teachers are divided and done in, and cannot easily cover one another. It is all or nothing and we are too apathetic . A rebel, fresher union group is needed.
    HelenREMfan likes this.
  10. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter


    Watch this space! TES is giving serious consideration to a webinar for school leaders in respect of their legal duty for work-related stress.

    The previous one, on pregnancy discrimination was excellent and the guest was a barrister from a leading chambers.

    This (if it goes ahead) would be an ideal opportunity to ask a barrister those difficult questions in respect of WRS.

    For me, I shall want to explore the paradox of the Working Time Regulations and teachers' hours.
    irs1054 and marlin like this.

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