‘Smartphone stress’ could lead to legal claims

An employment lawyer is highlighting the use of smartphones and other technology as contributing to an increase in work-related stress.

Oliver McCann, partner in the employment team at law firm Napthens, warns that businesses should manage the effect of such stress on their staff.

Oliver advises that technology such as smartphones are adding to the pressures felt by many employees, who are now able to check emails, for instance, around the clock.

He has warned that employers should take action to manage the stress for staff, or face an increased risk of stress-related employment claims.

He said: “Stress can show itself in mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, or even physical health problems such as heart disease.

“It’s therefore easy to see that an employer who does not take action to manage the effects of stress on its employees will not obtain the best out of those staff and could also face legal issues.

“Therefore businesses should recognise that employees deal with work pressures differently, and consider the impact of stress in the workplace using a few simple methods.

“For instance, employers should carry out a stress audit, and use return to work interviews to identify any underlying stress-related reason for absence or poor performance.

“Managers and all relevant staff should be well trained, and a stress policy should be implemented within a business. Employers should consult staff over organisational changes and avoid placing unreasonable demands on staff, wherever possible. “Finally, support should be provided through employee assistance programmes or occupational health services, and independent confidential counselling considered.”