The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued new criteria for investigating cases of work-related stress.

It says it will investigate if it receives evidence that a “number of staff are experiencing work-related stress or stress-related ill health (i.e. that it is not an individual case)”.

The HSE guidance refers employers to its management standards to help them tackle stress, which can cause physical and mental health problems and aggravate existing conditions.

Julie Hughes, senior case manager at Mind Matters Counselling LLP and Chair of BACP’s Workplace Division, said: “This indicates HSE is serious about focusing organisations into properly handling the issue of workplace stress, which costs employers billions in lost productivity.”

More than 15 million working days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety with an average of 25.8 days lost per case, according to HSE’s 2017/18 statistics.  In total, 57 per cent of all working days lost to ill-health were due to stress and anxiety.

Workers are taking an average of four sick days a year due to mental ill-health or stress but lying about it to their boss for fear of being judged, demoted or sacked.

Research by Censuswide and Slater and Gordon, issued in August, showed more than half of employees who took days out for their mental health ‘faked’ a physical illness to explain their absence.

Kris Ambler, our Workforce Lead, said: “for a long time we’ve known about the impact of occupational stress on workers’ mental health, now employers need to do more to make workplaces conducive to good mental health, including tackling stigma and providing access to workplace counselling.”

For more information about the HSE and work-related stress visit