Compensation claim for stress dismissed

A social worker who claimed her 100-hour a week workload led to
a stress-related breakdown had her compensation bid dismissed at
the High Court last week.

Maureen Pratley, who worked as a care manager for older people
in the Leatherhead area of Surrey, began legal action in June,
after she claimed she was left suicidal and depressed following a
breakdown in 1996. She was dismissed in May 1998.

Mr Justice Buckley ruled that, prior to a supervision meeting in
August 1996, her employer, Surrey Council, had had no reason to
anticipate that her health may be at risk.

He added that although he was sympathetic to Pratley, he could
not hold the council in breach of duty.

Meanwhile, an employee absence 2002 survey published last month
by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development finds that
nearly two-thirds of non-manual public sector staff report stress
as the main cause of long-term absence.

A Zurich Municipal survey of members of the Society of Personnel
Officers reveals that 64 per cent of officers believe they do not
have the knowledge to help their local authorities reduce stress in
the workplace. Thirty-eight per cent expect the number of
stress-related claims to rise.

– Zurich Municipal survey from 020 7535 9950 and CIPD survey
from 020 8263 3240.

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