Scope

This policy sets out the University’s commitment to managing and reducing the risks associated with work-related stress, the approach that it will take to delivering this commitment and its arrangements for supporting employees who report that they are experiencing stress. Employees in this context will include any student when undertaking paid work for the University.

This policy does not cover the University’s arrangements for supporting students who may be experiencing stress either due to their studies or as a result of their personal circumstances. Information on the relevant student welfare arrangements is available from Student Services.

Introduction

Work-related stress is a well-recognised significant cause of illness and disease and is known to be linked with high levels of employee sickness absence, reduced productivity, low morale and high staff turnover.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Stress can affect anyone at any level of an organisation and recent research shows that not confined to particular sectors, job types or industries.

Evidence suggests that the point at which excessive pressure leads to work-related stress may vary from employee to employee. People may also be affected by non-work issues which can result in them being less able to cope with work pressures than might otherwise be the case. In the context of the University of Bath, stress-related absences account for a significant proportion of all short and long-term sickness absence.

Employers have duties under the:

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities; and

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, to take measures to control that risk.

The HSE has developed guidance, the “Management Standards”, to support employers to meet their legal obligations. Compliance with the management standards is not a strict legal requirement; however, they are recognised as providing an approach that if followed will meet the statutory requirements posed by legislation. Where stress subsequently impacts upon an individual’s Mental Health then the Equality Act (EA) 2010 may apply. Advice on the requirements of the EA is available from Human Resources and the University’s Equality and Diversity Manager.

Definitions

The following definitions and explanations are taken from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE):

Work-Related Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other demands placed on them at work”. In this context, Stress is considered to be a state, not an illness. However, if stress becomes too excessive and prolonged, mental and physical ill-health may develop.

According to the HSE, work-related stress is distinct from reasonable pressure and challenges at work. The HSE state that “pressure and challenge can be positive and a motivating factor, and is often essential in a job. It can help us achieve our goals and perform better. Stress occurs when this pressure becomes excessive. Stress is a natural reaction to too much pressure”.

Policy Statement

The University of Bath is committed to promoting a healthy, safe and positive working environment for all members of the campus community. As part of this commitment, the University will take reasonable and practicable steps to safeguard the health and safety of their employees while at work. In the context of stress management, the University will:

  • Identify workplace stressors through a process of risk assessment.

  • Reduce the risk of stress occurring by the identification and implementation of good working practices based on the HSE’s Management Standards.

  • Define the roles and responsibilities placed on employees at all levels of the organisation by this policy.

  • Support employees at all levels of the organisation to recognise work-related stress and to take appropriate action in accordance with their responsibilities under this policy.

  • Provide support to employees who are experiencing work-related stress to enable them to either remain in work or to support them to make a return to work; and

  • Monitor the effectiveness of the stress management policy and any associated procedures and take appropriate corrective action to ensure that work-related stress is appropriately managed.

Responsibilities

The Vice-Chancellor (VC) has the overall day to day responsibility for health and safety matters at the University. The VC delegates responsibility for undertaking aspects of these duties through line management and identified roles. The following people are identified as having responsibility for managing work-related stress issues in those areas, and for those relevant persons, that fall under their control:

Director of Human Resources (HR) is responsible for ensuring that adequate resources are available within the HR Directorate to advise and support the organisation to manage work-related stress effectively and efficiently. This will include:

  • The development and provision of HR policy, guidance and advice to support the organisation to deliver this policy;

  • Ensuring that appropriate support mechanisms, including the University’s Employee Assistance Programme (Counselling and Occupational Health), are in place to support employees who may be reporting symptoms of work-related stress;

  • Putting systems in place to actively monitor stress-related sickness absence and to identify potential issues within the organisation

Head of University Health, Safety and Environment (UHSE) Service is responsible for:

  • Advising the University on health and safety legislation in relation to the management of work-related stress;

  • Leading on the development of the University’s Work-Related Stress Management policy and associated guidance and ensuring that these are reviewed in accordance with the University’s Safety Management System;

  • Managing the University’s Employee Assistance Programme;

  • Arranging periodic monitoring of the University’s Work-Related Stress Management policy and associated guidance to provide reassurance that it is: o current and meets legal requirements; o being implemented; and o effective in managing the risks associated with work-related stress.

  • Reporting the results of monitoring activity to University Health and Safety Committee and advising of any corrective actions that might be required.

Senior Managers, Deans and Heads of Schools are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Work-related stress risk assessments are prepared for members of Faculty / School staff.

  • Work-related stress risk assessments prepared under this policy use the Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards approach as a framework.

  • The significant findings of work-related stress risk assessments are addressed by the implementation of suitable and sufficient control measures.

  • Risk assessment are periodically monitored and corrective action taken where work-related stress risks are not being adequately controlled

  • Heads of Departments within their Faculty / School have met their responsibilities under this policy.

Heads of Department and Directors of Professional Services are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Work-related stress risk assessments are prepared for workers falling under their control.

  • Work-related stress risk assessments prepared under this policy use the Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards approach as a framework.

  • The significant findings of work-related stress risk assessments are addressed by the implementation of suitable and sufficient control measures.

  • Risk assessment are periodically monitored and corrective action taken where work-related stress risks are not being adequately controlled.

  • Cooperating with the Senior manager / Dean to enable them to meet their responsibilities under this policy.

Line Managers and Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the relevant School, Faculty, Departmental or Directorate stress risk assessments are followed within the team(s) falling under their control. Where there are issues with compliance, such as lack of available resources or support then these should be escalated up the line management chain. Line Managers and Supervisors will also be responsible for identifying, where possible, and responding appropriately to work-related issues within their teams. This may include:

  • Identifying and addressing potential workplace stressors, including stressors specifically associated with their team’s work. Any such actions taken should be recorded as a separate “team” work-related stress risk assessment;

  • Taking appropriate action when a member of their team indicates that they, or a colleague, may be experiencing symptoms of work-related stress;

  • Signpost available support to any of their team members who may be reporting that they are experiencing stress outside of work.

  • Proactively manage staff performance, attendance and sickness absence in accordance with HR policy and practice (where necessary by seeking advice and support from Human Resources).

Employees have a general responsibility to take reasonable care whilst at work to secure their own health and safety and the health and safety of others who may be affected by their actions. In the context of this policy this means:

  • Informing their line manager if they believe that they are experiencing symptoms of work-related stress or have similar concerns about their work colleagues;

  • Working with their manager to identify workplace stressors and to implement any control measures that might be put in place to reduce work-related stress.

The University offers a range of support for employees who may be experiencing stress, including work-related stress. Examples of such support includes the provision of Occupational Health Services and Counselling. There is no compulsion on employees to take up offers of such support, but the University strongly encourages affected employees to do so and will actively provide opportunities for employees to access these services.

Employees who do not feel able to speak to their line manager, or who do not feel that their line manager is adequately addressing their concerns should seek to raise these with their line manager’s manager. If this is also a problem then they may speak directly to HR or to UHSE. Employees may also seek advice and support from their Trades Union representative or the Employee Assistance Programme.

Monitoring and Review

Schools, Faculties, Departments and Directorates are responsible for monitoring their local stress management arrangements. This could be through management meetings, Departmental Health and Safety Committees or by other means. Where significant work-related stress issues are identified then advice should be sought from HR and/or UHSE.

The University’s Health, Safety and Environment (UHSE) Service is responsible for undertaking periodic audits and checks of health and safety performance and for reporting these to University Health and Safety Committee. This will include periodic checking of stress management policy and procedures and reporting on their efficiency and efficacy.

University Health and Safety Committee is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of this policy. This will include considering issues raised directly through committee members and also any reports or recommendations on this matter received from UHSE.

Further Information

The University’s Stress Management Standard provides a step by step overview of roles and responsibilities and how policy aims and intentions should be implemented.