The simple answer is ‘yes’ – but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
The definition of a ‘day’s work’ has changed drastically over the last decade. Although advancements in technology and the advent of smartphones have created benefits, we can all appreciate, the level of connectivity in today’s society has made it difficult for workers and staff to turn off from their work life. This is further exacerbated by elements of globalization that encourage companies to provide a 24/7 service to their clients and customers – resulting in long hours, unrealistic targets, a cultural expectation, and a huge increase in work-related stress.
Now one of the most common causes of workplace illness, stress can have a huge impact on a person’s well being and can lead to serious ill-health – either psychologically with symptoms such as anxiousness, depression, or fear, or physically with symptoms high blood pressure, or heart palpitations.
Under Irish law, employers have an obligation to protect their employees from injury and have a duty to provide them with a safe work environment. If an employer fails in either of these responsibilities and such failure leads to an injury, they may be exposed to a personal injury claim for compensation. In this respect, stress can be classified as a personal injury when it manifests itself in a physical or psychological form.
Occupational stress vs work-related stress
Despite the risk of serious injury, which can often have permanent consequences, making a claim for personal injuries arising out of workplace stress is not as straight-forward as other personal injuries. In this respect, it must be noted that there is a difference between ‘occupational stress’ and ‘work-related stress’.
‘Occupational stress’ is considered a simple fact of one’s work life. The courts in Ireland consider that a certain amount of stress will inevitably attach to certain jobs and, because of this, occupational stress cannot give rise to a successful legal action. ‘Work-related stress’ on the other hand is considered an actionable wrong. This is a type of stress that is ‘inflicted’ or made worse by an employer. Types of work-related stress include:
Excessive demands or expectations made of the employee.
Unrealistic targets and deadlines.
Lack of training or guidance.
Hazardous working conditions.
Excessive work hours.
Identifying a genuine work-related
stress claims Although they are on the rise, work-related stress claims remain difficult cases to prove. The reason for this is that the difference between ‘occupational stress’ and ‘work-related stress’ is highly nuanced. Although this is by no means a comprehensive list, the following elements must be met for a successful claim for personal injuries arising out of workplace stress:
There must be an injury, diagnosed by a qualified medical professional.
The injury must be attributable to workplace stress.
There must be some form of negligence on the part of the employer which brought about or exacerbated such stress.
The employer must have reasonably foreseen that such stress would arise. A complaint made by an employee is enough to put the employer on notice in this regard.
Taking a work-related stress claim
Once a genuine work-related stress claim has been identified, the process for making such a claim is identical to any other personal injury claim.
Get in Touch
Taking a work-related stress claim can be quite complex. For this reason, it is in your best interest to speak to experienced employment law and personal injuries solicitor with track record taking such cases. Our trusted team is extremely conscious of the impact an accident can have and that’s why we’ll work at a pace you are comfortable within a sensitive, relaxed and transparent manner.
If you would like to discuss how we can help you or if you would like to take advantage of a free, no-obligation consultation, call O’Brien Murphy Solicitors on (01) 874 6959.