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Stress In The Workplace


Resources

Model stress policies for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can be viewed on the right-hand side.

NASUWT Publication: Managing Your Mental Health and Wellbeing

Mental Health Report

Sick Leave Information

ETUC Survey Reveals UK teachers suffer more stress than European counterparts

An extensive NASUWT study has examined a number of dimensions and factors relating to health and safety issues in schools and colleges from the perspective of nearly 6,000 teachers, school and college leaders and health and safety trade union representatives. The subsequent report, Safe to Teach?, published in 2008, found the majority of respondents (69%) reported having suffered from work-related stress and in more than three in ten (31%) cases this resulted in members needing to take time off work. Women and men were found to be equally likely to suffer from work-related stress and of those teachers who have suffered from work-related stress, only 9% were provided with access to occupational health service support by the employer (8% in Scotland and Wales) and only 9% were provided with access to an employee assistance programme or teacher helpline by the employer (22% in Scotland)

 

.A girl showing signs of stress while reading a book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This clearly demonstrates that in many schools and colleges the health, safety and wellbeing of teachers is not being safeguarded to the extent they are entitled to expect. Furthermore, the Union’s research shows that many employers have failed in respect of taking appropriate action to eliminate the causes of work-related stress within schools and colleges or to react appropriately to subsequent cases of ill health. A copy of the report can be obtained from the NASUWT website at www.teachersunion.org.uk or by requesting it from the Despatch Team at despatch@mail.nasuwt.org.uk.

Employers and governing bodies have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 for the health and wellbeing of their staff. It is an implied term of contract that an employee should be able to carry out their duties free from unacceptable levels of work-related stress. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.

The NASUWT promotes the HSE Stress Management Standards, which define a desirable set of conditions to work towards. The HSE also has indicator and analysis tools to define the gap between where schools and colleges are now and where they should aim to get to. These tools are available on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/index.htm (new window). There is commonly more than one cause of work-related stress. The analysis tool will provide a set of data on current performance on each of the six standard areas.

Demands

Includes issues like workload, work patterns, and the work environment. The standard is that:

  • employees indicate that they are able to cope with the demands of their jobs; and
  • systems are in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

What should be happening/states to be achieved:

  • the organisation provides employees with adequate and achievable demands in relation to the agreed hours of work;
  • peoples’ skills and abilities are matched to the job demands;
  • jobs are designed to be within the capabilities of employees; and
  • employees’ concerns about their work environment are addressed.

Control

How much say the person has in the way they do their work. The standard is that:

  • employees indicate that they are able to have a say about the way they do their work; and
  • systems are in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

What should be happening/states to be achieved:

  • where possible, employees have control over their pace of work;
  • employees are encouraged to use their skills and initiative to do their work;
  • where possible, employees are encouraged to develop new skills to help them undertake new and challenging pieces of work;
  • the organisation encourages employees to develop their skills;
  • employees have a say over when breaks can be taken; and
  • employees are consulted over their work patterns.The Health and Safety Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support

Includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the organisation, line management and colleagues. The standard is that:

  • employees indicate that they receive adequate information and support from their colleagues and superiors; and
  • systems are in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

What should be happening/states to be achieved:

  • the organisation has policies and procedures to adequately support employees;
  • systems are in place to enable and encourage managers to support their staff;
  • systems are in place to enable and encourage employees to support their colleagues;
  • employees know what support is available and how and when to access it;
  • employees know how to access the required resources to do their job; and
  • employees receive regular and constructive feedback.

Relationship

Includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour. The standard is that:

  • employees indicate that they are not subjected to unacceptable behaviours, e.g. bullying at work; and
  • systems are in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

What should be happening/states to be achieved:

  • the organisation promotes positive behaviours at work to avoid conflict and ensure fairness;
  • employees share information relevant to their work;
  • the organisation has agreed policies and procedures to prevent or resolve unacceptable behaviour;
  • systems are in place to enable and encourage managers to deal with unacceptable behaviour; and
  • systems are in place to enable and encourage employees to report unacceptable behaviour.

Role

Whether people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that the person does not have conflicting roles. The standard is that:

  • employees indicate that they understand their role and responsibilities; and
  • systems are in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

What should be happening/states to be achieved:

  • the organisation ensures that, as far as possible, the different requirements it places upon employees are compatible;
  • the organisation provides information to enable employees to understand their role and responsibilities;
  • the organisation ensures that, as far as possible, the requirements it places upon employees are clear; and
  • systems are in place to enable employees to raise concerns about any uncertainties or conflicts they have in their role and responsibilities.

Change

How organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the organisation. The standard is that:

  • employees indicate that the organisation engages them frequently when undergoing an organisational change; and
  • systems are in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

What should be happening/states to be achieved:

  • the organisation provides employees with timely information to enable them to understand the reasons for proposed changes;
  • the organisation ensures adequate employee consultation on changes and provides opportunities for employees to influence proposals;
  • employees are aware of the probable impact of any changes to their jobs. If necessary, employees are given training to support any changes in their jobs;
  • employees are aware of timetables for changes; and
  • employees have access to relevant support during changes.

This information can be used in focus group discussions with employees to determine what is happening in your school or college and what should be done to close the gap.

If excessive stress amongst members is a problem in your workplace, you need to approach the headteacher or principal immediately to discuss utilising the HSE Stress Management Standards to identify the causes of excessive work-related stress and to implement appropriate strategies to address problems. Further strategies that the NASUWT Health and Safety Representative can adopt to tackle workplace stress are outlined in the section on ‘Stress’ in the Health and Safety Representatives’ Handbook which is available on the NASUWT website at www.teachersunion.org.uk or by requesting it from the Despatch Team at despatch@mail.nasuwt.org.uk.

Further Information

The NASUWT also works with the UK National Work Stress Network who produce the advice booklet Work Stress which can be obtained from www.workstress.net/downloads.htm (new window).

The Union also jointly funds Teacherline which provides 24-hour advice and counselling at www.teacherline.org.uk (new window) and on 08000 562 561 (Eng) or 0800 085 5088 (Wales).

Help, Advice, Support

If you experience any problems on these or any other issues, please contact your NASUWT Local Secretary, National Executive Member or NASUWT Regional or National Centre.

Contact details can be found:

 

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