Employment, equal opportunities and diversity: The stress test
With the Health & Safety Executive estimating that work-related stress, depression and anxiety account for a third of all incidents of illness at work, the circumstances in which these conditions may trigger rights and obligations both at common law and under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) is becoming an increasingly important issue. At common law, the employer may be liable where the employee suffers stress or a similar mental health condition amounting to a clinically recognised illness if it results from a failure to take reasonable care for their safety or a breach of the duty of trust and confidence. One of the critical questions - and the hurdle which an employee frequently fails to get over - is whether it was reasonably foreseeable that the employee would suffer the kind of harm they did. The sort of situations where this liability has arisen are those where the employee was required to take on an unreasonable workload and began to show signs of strain by taking time off work due to stress (see Hatton v Sutherland  and Hone v Six Continents Retail ).
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