According to an AXA PPP study, most employers do not believe that suffering from stress, depression or anxiety is a serious enough reason for staff to take time off work. Almost half (46%) of employees thought their employer did not take mental health seriously and only a third said that they would be honest with their boss if they needed time off for depression, stress or anxiety.

Penningtons Manches’ head of employment, Paul Mander and Carole Spiers, chief executive of an international stress management consultancy, were interviewed on LBC’s Nick Ferrari show to share their views on how employers should be dealing with mental ill health at work.

Carole Spiers emphasised that employers have to be more aware of stress and its symptoms and that employees should inform HR about their problems as soon as possible.

Paul Mander said that most employers are now aware of the concept because work-related stress has overtaken back pain as the main reason for workplace absence. “There is good stress and bad stress and a job without any stress is likely to be boring.”

“Having said that, it is well recognised that stress and depression can, in some cases, amount to a genuine disability and that leads to an obligation on the employer to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for employees who genuinely suffer from it.”

“Because the incidence of stress is now so wide-ranging and is occasionally used by people going through a redundancy or performance management plan as a delaying tactic, there is sometimes a lack of sympathy on the employer’s part. Employers should however be aware that managing stress is not just about being warm and cuddly as, if you get it wrong, you can be sued, and the claims are potentially unlimited.”