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Work-related stress: what the law says

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by GLsghost, Nov 29, 2015.

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  1. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Excellent, @GLsghost , I'm going to make it a sticky.

    I note that it tells employers to: take notice of signs of harm to employees that are plain enough for you to realise that preventative or protective action is required

    I reckon that writing as I suggest in HERE is very clear notice that there are signs of harm to employees.

    It is clear that a Head has a Duty of Care towards the teachers, as do the Governors or whoever employs the Head, towards the Head.

    You need to trigger that Duty of Care since it is being ignored, by a formal letter asking what steps they are going to take to safeguard your health. With a request for an answer within a timescale.

    If teachers all over the country started doing that, then something might be done on a national scale.

    Best wishes

  3. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    That is a very important point, @TheoGriff . An employer is entitled to believe that employees can cope with the normal stresses and strains of the teaching job until they are given information to the contrary.

    An employer cannot be held accountable for something they know nothing about. Employees who become ill as a consequence of WRS need to ensure this is on their medical records and then seek help to reduce the stressors - perhaps via a letter from the GP or referral to OH. This triggers the duty of care. Only then, if the advice is ignored which leads to further illness or injury, can an employee make a claim for negligence that has caused injury.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    To tidy up the sticky threads, I am repeating here what I said in the thread

    Overwhelming workload - what can you do about it?

    The overwhelming despair of teachers faced with the stresses of the workload

    This term the forum has been overwhelmed with posters who are desperate about the overwhelming pressures on them from an unbearable workload. Very many of them are having their health affected by the stress of life as a teacher today. People have left teaching, are leaving teaching, are going to leave teaching as soon as they can.

    If this is you, what can you do about it?

    The answer: tell someone!

    Apart from your GP, who is certainly the first person to tell if this is making you ill, you also need to tell your Headteacher, formally, in writing.

    Write to your Headteacher

    As @GLsghost and I have both pointed out, your Headteacher has a duty of care towards you. If you are a Headteacher, then the duty of care is owed you by your employer: Chair of Governors, Local Authority, Academy Trust.

    GLsghost gave a link to the guidance published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, outlining the employer's duty. This document says, among other things, that employers should

    • take notice of signs of harm to employees that are plain enough for you to realise that preventative or protective action is required.

    By writing to the Headteacher (or other employer), formally, outlining your problems, you are giving clear notice that there is harm to an employee, and thus you are triggering their duty of care towards you and their need to take preventative or protective action.

    So if your health is being impacted by your job as a teacher, or Headteacher, start drafting that letter:

    Write down exactly how you are feeling, list the work-related stresses on you and how you cannot cope physically, mentally or emotionally because of the overwhelming demands of the job. Say that it has seriously impacted on your health and wellbeing. If you have been to see your GP and been told that you are suffering from work-related stress, say so specifically. If there is a knock-on effect on your partner and your family, outline this too.

    Write this as a letter to your Headteacher (or other employer) and ask what specific steps will be taken by the school to alleviate the pressures on you in order to safeguard your health.

    Say you would wish to receive a response outlining these solutions within 5 working days in order to prevent a further decline in your health.

    You may like to send a copy to the Chair of Governors or Chair of the Academy Trust.

    N.B. As with all my suggestions on the forums, you must decide for yourself whether it is appropriate for you to write, and exactly what you should say. It should always be honest and truthful.

    Who else should you tell? TES yesterday published this report of the schools minister Nick Gibb replying to the very pertinent question: "Can you tell the House what specific steps your government is taking to lessen teacher workloads in England?".

    Read here what he said

    If you do not believe that the excessive workload is being tackled, you might also wish to consider writing to your MP.

    How to write to your MP You can write by letter, or by e-mail. Whichever you choose, do make sure that you write personally and not a paste-and-copy from somewhere or somebody else, nor a template letter.

    Here are two ways of getting in touch with your MP. You will need to know your postcode if you are not sure of the name.

    Parliament WriteToThem

    What to say? Make it succinct. Short and to the point is more effective than long and rambling. The latter might not get read . . .

    If you are feeling tongue-tied about what to say, consider these points, but do try to think of your own. You might like to outline briefly the actual workload, how it has increased (if it has), the impact that this is having on your life, and any impact that it may have had on your health, and also on your family. If you are not the only one affected in your school, you could also say so.

    A query about what is actually being done to improve things might be good, but of course you must say what you personally wish to. Politely, of course!

    Something has to be done at school level and at national level to improve the lot and the lives of teachers and their families.

    This cannot go on!

    Best wishes

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