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Stress at Work Claims

An overview

Stress and anxiety are a growing problem in the workplace in Britain, notwithstanding the growing levels of awareness of mental health at work. If you are suffering mental health issues, be reassured that you are not alone: in the year 2019-2020, more than half (51%) of all work-related ill health cases related to stress, depression and anxiety. And you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Stress at work is common in most workplaces but the UK’s emergency services – paramedics, for example, is among the most stressful sectors to work at the moment. Fortunately, something can be done about workplace stress. If you are suffering work related stress, anxiety or other form of psychological harm as a result of your working environment, you have come to the right place for help.

Your employer has a duty of care to protect the mental health of its workforce, so if you have been left to suffer, for example, it’s increasingly difficult to undertake your usual day to day activities – you should be able to make a work compensation claim.

Stress is known to be a good thing when it stays within a healthy zone. When we’re under a normal healthy level of stress, our cognitive performance and alertness is enhanced and our performance is improved. Conversely, if we do not have enough stress in our lives, our performance can be below par; and we can even become bored and depressed.

Some people thrive on much greater levels of stress than others, but when our stress levels become chronically high, we can start to suffer. If stress at work becomes unmanageable, the worker becomes unable to perform their tasks adequately – and this can then become a vicious circle of work related stress and unproductivity at work. If left unmanaged, the toll on your mental and physical health can trigger stress, anxiety and depression and could result in you having to take time off work.

Stress and pressures in the workplace also affects people differently, depending on their age and experience and their health; as well as other factors particular to them which employers should take into account.  This is because work-related stress is, essentially, a management issue. Employers who get it right will have a happy workforce where stress is kept at manageable levels.

If you’ve suffered work related stress, we know how daunting it is for you to even think about making a stress at work compensation claim for stress at work. Injury lawyers are sympathetic and experienced in mental health claims. When you’re ready, they’ll talk you carefully through your specific situation, explain the no win no fee claims process to you and help you on the road to making a work compensation claim.

Importantly, stress at work claims will be taken on a No Win No Fee basis which means you will not have to pay out any legal fees if you do not win. You can call for free advice on 0800 234 6438 or, if you prefer, you can fill in this online contact form and request a call back. We can arrange for you to have a free consultation from experienced solicitors about making your claim for work related stress.


17.9 million

The number of working days lost because of stress at work, and work related anxiety or depression in 2019/20

SOURCE: Labour Force Survey

What is stress at work?

Work related stress, alongside anxiety and depression, is essentially the negative mental and emotional reaction to pressures at work. Usually, stress and anxiety at work is caused by the prolonged exposure to stressful situations – whether that’s the work itself or other people. If you suffer stress, it can also manifest itself in panic attacks.

The Health and Safety Executive highlights six areas at work that can affect a worker’s stress levels: workplace demands, control, support, relationships, role and change. If the risks in these specific areas are not correctly risk-assessed, stress is less likely to be well-managed in the workplace.

The rate of work-related stress, depression and anxiety has increased alarmingly in recent years. Sadly, it is usually avoidable if employers take steps to minimise the risk or address the risks once identified. If they fail to do so, they can expect to face work compensation claims from those who develop work related stress.

The type of workplace also impacts on worker levels of stress. According to the HSE, the industries that have the highest levels of stress, depression and anxiety among workers include electricity, gas, steam and aid conditioning supply; public admin and defence; health and social work; and education.



The number of workers who suffered stress, anxiety or depression at work in Britain in 2019/20 – which was higher than the previous period.

SOURCE: Labour Force Survey


Stress is defined as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them”


What are the symptoms of stress at work?

The symptoms of stress at work are wide-ranging and often manifest in health problems as well as psychological difficulties. Symptoms vary depending on the character and sensibilities of the sufferer themselves, but the typical symptoms include:

Physical symptoms – Fatigue and insomnia, headaches, palpitations, dermatological problems, diarrhoea and loss of appetite are typical of health problems as a direct result of stress and anxiety

Acting out of character – A normally outgoing worker becomes remote or distracted at work

Arguments – You may be more irritable and bad-tempered, and finding yourself unable to hold your tongue with colleagues or managers

Decreased performance – You are unable to do the tasks properly which you used to be able to do easily; you feel overwhelmed so that you can’t function properly

Lack of motivation – Also indecision, lack of confidence

Taking time off – whether as sick leave or for ‘odd’ days

Nervousness and avoidance – Being unusually nervous around others; or avoiding seeing people or dealing with situations

Emotional behaviour – Tearfulness, aggression, negativity, excitability or hyperactive behaviour. These are the same symptoms typical in post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stress injury severity could indicate PTSD – a mental disorder common amount members and former member of the armed forces.

Increases in complaints and grievances

Poor time-keeping

In the most serious cases of work related stress and anxiety, the individual may suffer burnout and a mental or emotional breakdown. You may become completely overwhelmed and unable to cope; and could eventually become unable to work.

Thankfully, stress and anxiety and other stress-related mental health conditions can be treated successfully. Getting early help is essential to getting on the road to effective treatment and recovery. You should hopefully then feel ready to start claiming stress at work compensation to help you get on with your life.

What is an employer’s responsibility to reduce stress?

The law imposes strict health and safety responsibilities on employers to ensure the workplace is safe and free from the risk of injury. This includes injury to workers’ mental and emotional health. A common stress trigger is being expected to task that are not included within the job description or employment contract, meaning that the worker can quickly feel overwhelmed.

Employers must carry out risk assessments and then act on anything identified as potentially posing a risk of physical or psychological harm to employees. They must ensure proper training is provided to enable you and your work colleagues can do your job properly; and further training should be given if you’re finding the work stressful.

Sometimes, the first time an employer is aware there is an issue is when they are told about it. When an employer is first put on notice that a worker is suffering from stress at work, they have a legal duty to act on it and make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to alleviate the stress. Employers can also minimise unnecessary stress on workers by making sure they have regular rest periods which give them adequate time out before resuming their work.

Should I be worried about the impact on me of making a work claim?

We understand how daunting it is to consider suing your employer. You may wonder if you’re making a fuss about nothing. But we’re all different and one employee may be able to work under a high level of stress while another worker’s tolerance levels of stress are lower.

But we can reassure you that your stress at work claim will be against the employer’s insurance company and not the employer directly. Your stress at work compensation will then be paid by the insurer and not out of the employer’s own pocket.

You might understandably be worried about the potential impact on workers of making work compensation claims. Thankfully, you are legally protected from being harassed or fired for bringing any sort of injury claim, including for stress at work compensation. This applies to employees, contract workers, agency workers and the self employed.

Where you do believe you’re being victimised because of your work claim, take specialist advice about what further action you can take to protect your interests. If you do have a good case for a stress at work injury claim, it can be made by way of a civil personal injury claim; or alternatively through the employment tribunal. Your solicitor will advise you which is the best course of action depending on your particular circumstances.


A disabled receptionist who was terrified of working with members of the public but was denied a back office role was awarded more than £56,000 by an employment tribunal. Croydon’s NHS trust was found to have unfairly dismissed her because it had not made reasonable adjustments.

What causes stress-related illness in the workplace?

Work-related stress and anxiety is, unfortunately, a modern-day blight on workforce and is caused by many different factors. The most common causes include:

Tight deadlines

Deadlines that are consistently unmanageable eventually trigger undue stress and anxiety. Similarly, professionals who are under ever-increasing billing targets are at risk of stress-related illnesses.  


Most people who have spent any time in the workplace will know that workplace conflict is unpleasant at the best of times. Conflicts do arise from time to time – it’s the nature of working with other people. But if conflicts are not managed effectively and allowed to fester, they can cause unnecessary and sometimes intolerable stress for those involved. Conflicts can also spill over into bullying, with stress at work victims often being subjected to abusive language by colleagues.

Too much responsibility

Where demands made of you are too much for your role and or experience; or they exceed your contractual role and duties.

Too much supervision

You may have a demanding boss who over-supervises and micromanages you. This can lead to a lack of independence and autonomy that causes stress levels to quickly escalate.

Poor working environment

The workplace may be unsafe; or unsuitable for the role you’re expected to perform – despite raising the issue with the employer.

Lack of training or equipment

A worker expected to perform their role without adequate training and supervision where appropriate is likely to suffer adversely from stress. For example, working in a factory where you don’t feel adequately trained in using the machinery; and members of the armed forces who are not provided with the correct equipment can suffer the effects of prolonged stress.

Lack of support from managers

This is a major trigger for stress-related illnesses at work. Employees can rightly expect to receive adequate and effective support from their line managers or superiors. This includes clear expectations, sustainable and realistic deadlines and work schedules, and transparency in decision-making processes. Without these, stress can build up to intolerable levels.

Uncertainty about role

Having ambiguity as to your role in the workplace can be stressful. You may, for instance, be second-guessing exactly where your role begins or ends. Employers should clearly define a worker’s role and objectives to give them certainty about their rights and responsibilities.

Lack of control

If you’re out of control as far as your job is concerned, it is not at all surprising that you’re suffering from stress. If you have too much on your plate, you’re likely to be unable to organise your time or your work schedule effectively – leading to you have little control over how you work. You may also have less control over situations that arise.

Violence, threats and bullying

These are never acceptable in any workplace. Where any violence, threats, bullying or harassment arises, the employer must deal with it decisively. No one should have be forced to tolerate being bullied and victimised in the workplace and if it is allowed to continue, victims should have every right to claim compensation.

Denying your legal rights

Denying you your worker rights can trigger stress and anxiety. If, for example, you are legally entitled to a certain number of breaks in a single shift and you are denied a break; or your employer denies your request to take your annual holiday entitlement, this can cause avoidable anxiety and make your work life unacceptably stressful.

Poor management after illness

If you’ve returned to work after an illness, your employer should discuss with you your return to work. If this is not done effectively and you’re left unprotected, it can lead to stress and anxiety – and you could claim stress at work compensation.

DID YOU KNOW: In a 2019 survey of 2,000 UK workers at small to medium-sized businesses, 23% said they have been bullied at work and 25% said they had been made to feel left out in the workplace

What should you do if you’re stressed at work?

It’s wise to discuss your first step with specialist lawyers who will listen carefully to your situation and what action you can take. If you’re feeling mentally strong enough, it would also be worth considering asking your employer what policies are in place for stress in the workplace. The HSE also recommends, in the absence of such a policy, talking to your HR department or trade union representative.

It is important to see your GP or other medical professional or psychologist if you have not already done so. We really do understand how hard it is to talk about your mental health, but it is vital for stress at work claims to have it formally recorded in your medical notes. More importantly, your road to recovery will probably begin with a conversation with a doctor or psychologist who will be able to start a treatment plan and discuss counselling or other forms of therapy with you.

Personal injury lawyers are experienced in talking gently through the issues, free of legal jargon, with workers who are suffering stress at work. They will talk you through the claims process in simple terms, minimising the stress you’re already experiencing.

If your employer is responsible for your stress and anxiety, they should be held liable. To get your stress at work claim started, it will be important to speak with an experienced work claims solicitor from a specialist personal injury law firm as soon as possible while events are fresh in your mind.

When you first speak with your personal injury solicitor, try to have as much information to hand as possible. This should include details of your role at work, the stress and difficulties you have faced, what training and support you have received at work and how your mental health has been affected.

We strongly suggest that if you haven’t already, you consider keeping a diary of your symptoms and the impact on your life. This is very important for all stress at work claims.

If you’re able to, you would also be wise to gather details of any loss of earnings directly related to the accident, and other costs such as travel and therapy costs. The more information your solicitor has to support your compensation claim, the greater the chances of securing the maximum amount you deserve – as early as possible. It will be necessary to obtain an expert psychiatric or psychologist’s report to support your claim. However, you don’t need to worry about this as your solicitor will organise this for you at the appropriate time.

Your lawyer will discuss the claims process with you, guiding you through the initial steps and advising you of the options, depending on whether the other side admit responsibility. Thankfully, many stress at work claims are settled without going to court without having to issue court proceedings.

To make the first steps towards your stress at work injury claim, call now for a free consultation with a trained legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 or by filling in this online form.

How much compensation could I claim for stress at work?

The amount of compensation workers and employees may be entitled to when making stress at work claims varies significantly, depending on the nature and extent of their condition. This means there’s no average payout and so it can be very difficult to give an exact figure of how much compensation you might receive this early on.

However, you can be sure your solicitor will always work to secure you the maximum amount of compensation possible. Compensation will be for your actual psychological injuries – this is called ‘general damages’. Your stress at work compensation claim may also be able to include a claim for specific financial losses, known as ‘special damages’.

General damages

How much compensation you receive in general damages will be calculated depending on various factors, particularly:

  • The nature and extent of your stress, anxiety or depression
  • What effect it is having on your work and your family life and other relationships
  • How long it may take you to recover or, at least, bring it to a manageable level
  • Whether you can go back to work, or even to the same job

Helpfully, there are formal judicial guidelines which lawyers refer to calculate the maximum compensation someone could be entitled to by way of stress at work compensation. In the case of workplace stress injuries (called ‘psychiatric harm’), the guidelines suggest, for example:

  • Acute psychiatric harm which has a long lasting and significant effect on your quality of life – £51,460 to £108, 620
  • Moderately acute with medium term impact on your quality of life – £17,900 to £51,460
  • Average harm with no long term issues – £5,500 to £17,900
  • Minor harm with few or no ongoing mental health symptoms – up to £5,500

You can also try our online accident at work compensation calculator for a rough estimate of how much compensation you might be due.

I’m ex-armed forces: can I claim compensation from the government?

If you were are a serving member of the armed forces (or still serving) and you’re suffering the impact of stress as a result of your job, you may be entitled to make a claim under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. When you speak with a specialist solicitor, it’s important to discuss the possibility of making a claim under the Scheme as soon as you can.

Special damages

If you have lost out financially because of work-related stress and anxiety, your work claim can include what are known as ‘special damages’, such as lost earnings. Significant psychiatric injuries may mean you have had to resign your job or had to take long term sick leave while you seek treatment.

This may have left you with little choice but to rely on benefits or on reduced income from a part time job to get you and your family through financially. Thankfully, accident claims can include a claim for loss of earnings – both past and future. Before negotiating your settlement agreement, your solicitor will ask you for detailed information about the financial impact of your condition before calculating how much to claim. For example, they will need details of:

  • Loss of earnings if you’ve had to have unpaid time off for treatment or you have lost your job because of the stress
  • Medical costs, such as CBT, counselling or other therapies
  • Information about opportunities lost and the longer-term impact on your future career prospects

You can be sure that your solicitor will work hard on your behalf to negotiate the maximum compensation you deserve.

How does a no win no fee claim work?

You do not need to worry about any financial layout to bringing work related accident claims including for work related stress. This is because your claim will be taken by your solicitor on a no win no fee basis, so there will no added stress from financial concerns.

No win no fee (also known as a conditional fee agreement) is an agreement between you and your solicitor which means you won’t have to pay your legal fees if you don’t win. This removes the financial risk from claiming compensation and means you won’t be left with a bill you can’t afford.

Nor will you have to pay any costs upfront – once your solicitors take on the case on a no win no fee basis, you’ll only need to pay them if you win your case.

If you win your stress at work claim, you will pay your legal fees by way of what is known as a ‘success fee’. This is a percentage of your stress at work compensation. The exact amount varies depending on how complex your case is, but it will never be more than 25% of work compensation payouts received. You’ll have discussed and agreed the amount with your solicitor before starting your case so you’ll know what you will have to pay.

The law recognises that everyone has the right to stress at work compensation if it was not their own fault. Thankfully, no win no fee makes this possible for genuine stress at work cases, regardless of your financial situation.

For more information about how you can make your no win no fee stress at work claim, you can speak to an experienced legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 who can take you through the next steps.

How long have I got to make a claim?

The general rule in personal injury claims is that you have three years from the date of the incident to start legal proceedings for personal injury compensation compensation. After three years, you may be ‘time barred’ from making a claim.

However, if you have developed psychiatric harm such as stress-related symptoms and panic attacks, the three-year period does not start to run until the date you could reasonably have expected to have known that the workplace environment caused it.

In most cases of stress and anxiety at work, the symptoms will manifest themselves fairly soon. However, if they do take longer to emerge, don’t assume you can’t make your work claim because of the passage of time. Always talk things through with specialist solicitors and seek legal advice so that you’re aware of your rights.


NHS Highland is expected to pay a total of £3.14 million in injury compensation to nearly 293 staff who had suffered widescale bullying and harassment at work.

SOURCE: Nursing Times

The most important thing you can do is call our phone number on 0800 234 6438 for legal advice if you are suffering stress at work. Specialist lawyers will help you claim maximum compensation by bringing a no win no fee workplace stress claim under a conditional fee agreement. Solicitors are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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