Stress policies

Developing a Workplace Stress Policy

Creating a caring, supportive culture.

It is not possible to create a model stress policy applicable to all situations and workplaces. At our Conference in June 1999 a workshop looked at what a policy should contain and came to the following conclusions:

  • A good policy will have been created after thoughtful consultation (between workers and management). All workers representatives should liaise closely with their unions to obtain best advice during the consultation process.
  • It is important that the policy is 'owned' by those it is intended to protect.
  • All policies should commence with a statement of intent and links to the relevant Health & Safety legislation.
  • Acknowledgement of the issues and commitment from the very top of the organisation is essential. Employers need to say that they find the creation of workplace stress unacceptable and that they will work for its eradication.
  • An acknowledgement of the cost of stress in both personal and financial terms should be contained in the policy.
  • The policy should begin with the acceptance of employer responsibility for the stressors and for the illnesses that follow.
  • There should be clear arrangements for the carrying out of risk assessments.
  • The policy should state clearly the steps the employer intends to take to eradicate the problem of work-related stress injury.
  • It should contain arrangements for supportive and confidential health monitoring.
  • There should be commitment to the provision of suitable training available to the workforce (including managers) throughout their working lives.
  • The effectiveness of the policy should be carefully monitored and evaluated. The mechanism for doing this should involve all parties and be contained in the policy statement itself.
  • The policy should be widely publicized among the workforce by individual letters and workplace posters.
  • If the policy is to succeed in creating a climate of openness it should make sure that all its provisions are confidential. Workers should be able to refer themselves to health or counselling services without going through a permission-seeking procedure.

The HSE also provides a number of helpful tools for workplace audits, together with a wide range of additional support materials. Please visit the HSE Stress page for examples.

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