The Network's Aims

The UK National Work-Stress Network has as its fundamental aims:

Campaign for the better protection of workers against work-induced stress through better health and safety law and stronger enforcement

Education and awareness raising.

Links with other organisations seeking to eliminate bullying, harassment and work-related stress.

Assisting groups tackling workplace stress.

Campaigning for:

  • The recognition of stress-related illness as an industrial injury.
  • The stricter control and management of stress in the workplace.
  • The recognition of bullying as a serious workplace hazard, which Employers have a duty to prevent.
  • Dignity at work within a caring supportive culture.

Context of the Network's campaign programme

A climate of uncertainty has been caused by job insecurity, as the rights of employees have been regularly eroded in favour of a "business and enterprise culture". Short-term and temporary contracts, zero-hours contracts, casualisation, the conversion of public services into 'businesses' (in which a smaller number of workers were expected to deliver the same amount of work) and increased lone working have all increased pressure on the worker, thus changing the face of employment.

Excessive target-setting and performance measurement now pervade many aspects of work, applying additional pressures to workers at every level.

Coercive management practices (bullying) flourish as pressure increases to cut costs and to meet targets, often with reduced staffing. This profit-motivated attitude has led to an unacceptable rise in the reported cases of stress-related workplace illness. Research indicates that 20% of the workforce feels under intolerable levels of stress. Research also shows that some 35% of stressed workers are at this stage because of bullying management styles.

The UK National Work Stress Network, as part of the Hazards Campaign, demands legislation which clearly defines stress-related illness as an industrial injury for the purpose of sickness benefits and legislation leading to enforcement procedures to ensure that employees are suitably protected and employers and managers are culpable for their actions.

We demand that factors leading to stress and associated illness be explicitly included in risk assessments, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. We call for an explicit set of criteria related to factors which cause workplace stress, such as hours of work, pressure of work, shift work, temporary contracts, casual working, pace of work and its distribution, as well as the style and manner of management.

We welcome and support the HSE Management Standards, but call for them to be strengthened; to be made obligatory under statute and enforceable in law.

We demand an ACOP or new specific regulations giving clear instructions to management on the necessary actions to remove stress related illness from the workplace.

We seek the right of people at work to be treated with dignity and respect to be explicitly stated in new regulations designed to prevent the abuse of hierarchical position which creates a bullying culture.

How you can help

We have produced a model letter which you can send suitably amended to your Member of Parliament on the issue of Work-related Stress, which should be written in your own words. There is a lot that can be said, it may be best to dip into various aspects mentioned here, but above all you should include a local angle.

You can also download an information pack on our network at the foot of this and every page

Next: What is work-related stress?