Economic conditions combined with attitudinal shifts could make workplace disputes ‘fertile pastures’ for claimant firms

There are many factors which influence the volume of employee stress/harassment claims initiated in any single year. Clearly, the behaviour of employers is one of these, but a range of broader, what might be described as macro factors do contribute to the waxing and waning of claims numbers. What is significant is that many of the factors that point towards growth in claims are converging on 2020.

Over the last few years, we have seen greater awareness and willingness to call out inappropriate behaviour/bullying in the workplace and its impact. The conduct of a series of high-profile business figures have been held up to public scrutiny and found wanting. Awareness of issues relating to gender, religion and sexual orientation have arguably reached a new high.

Workplace mental health has also been in the spotlight with even senior business executives talking publicly about their struggles.

The state of the economy has its role to play. During periods of recession claims numbers often increase particularly those relating to over work allegations where, for example, there have been redundancies and existing staff perceive that their workload has increased as a result. It is important in those situations to thoroughly investigate as it may simply be that there has been restructuring to improve efficiencies and it does not simply follow that there has been negligence.

Finally, there is the desire among claimant firms to find new revenue streams. As noise-related hearing loss cases diminish workplace stress, bullying and harassment claims may seem like fertile pastures. Already, at least one claimant business is structured to create a division dedicated to this class of claim.

Volumes of employee stress/bullying/ harassment claims have been rising for some time. That rise looks set to continue into 2020. With the UK’s economy stalling and businesses facing Brexit-based uncertainty combined with shifts in public attitude and the need among claims farmers to generate revenue these factors all point towards a continuing growth in this area of litigation.

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