Friday, April 22, 2005

Sickness Absence – A Stressful Subject

The British Medical Journal has reported that stress and depression have overtaken lower back pain as the most common cause of long term absence from work.

Cynics often suggested that lower back pain was often quoted as a reason for absence from work due to the difficulties with disproving its existence, and the same people might make a similar suggestion with regards to "stress."

In the past the Courts have insisted that workplace stress is only actionable if it amounts to a well-recognised psychiatric illness but in the sphere of disability discrimination legislative changes remove this requirement, making it more difficult for employers to deal with long-term absences resulting from this type of condition.

It seems unlikely that stress will lose its place at the top of the "league table" in the foreseeable future.

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A Hollow Victory?

Citizens Advice has issued a new report which warns that many employees who are awarded compensation by Employment Tribunals are failing to receive the money to which they are entitled.

The Tribunal has no power to enforce awards so if the employer does not pay up the employee's only choice is to incur further cost by seeking to enforce through the County Court – which is in itself a notoriously inefficient system of debt recovery.

CAB alone deal with up to 700 complaints a year of non-payment.

Legal rights are only as good as the ability to enforce them and this is one area where it would appear that a major overhaul is long overdue.

For more details see