Updated: Aug 24
Guest Blogger: Jessica Rowson, Head of Psychiatric Injury, Oakwood Solicitors
We asked Jessica what advice she would offer to someone who was facing a stressful bullying or harassment situation at work. Here are some of her key pieces of advice for anyone who find themselves in this situation.
Put your health first, don’t be afraid to speak to your GP
The most important thing above any claim you may have is in maintaining your own health – this must be the priority.
If you are concerned about how you are coping with stress at work, we would encourage you to speak to your GP and seek specialist advice. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge surrounding the issues of mental ill-health and should be the first port of call if you have concerns.
Confide in someone
Although it may feel very difficult, do try to speak to someone who may be able to help you and who you feel able to confide in. Whether that be to a colleague or a manager, the old adage of ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved’ is true.
Highlighting the problems you are facing at work to your manager may result in a useful discussion about practical steps they can put into place for you to help. Most employers now give training to managers on how to deal with these types of issues so you should feel reassured about speaking up.
Understand internal procedures to access help
If you have a company handbook, look up what the stress policy is as there might be internal options for help and support that you can access directly. Some employers for example offer an EAP (employee assistance programme) service which commonly offer counselling free of charge and in a confidential environment.
If this sort of information is not internally published, ask your manager as they might be able to signpost you to any internal support programs available and/or advise how they can best support you in the workplace from a practical point of view.
Consider making a flexible working request
Every employee has the right to request flexible working and all employers must make reasonable consideration of every request made. If you feel as though working flexibly would help either on a permanent or temporary basis, then do consider this as an option.
Keep a diary
Particularly where there may be issues of bullying at work, it would be useful to keep a diary
of events. Keeping your own log of dates and acts as they happen can later be useful if you did wish to raise a formal complaint.
Some therapists also suggest that keeping a diary in itself can be therapeutic even if you don’t ever use it for anything.
Speak to HR
Human Resources are there to help all employees, not just managers. If you feel able to do so, opening up to someone in HR may lead to further options of support being opened up to you.
Commonly, HR representatives will talk to you about internal options of making a formal complaint, arranging perhaps mediation meetings and where mental ill health becomes a concern, may suggest a referral to Occupational Health for advice.
It’s important to remember that Occupational Health is a means of obtaining help and support for the issues at work and engagement with them as a service should be cooperated with.
Consider raising a formal complaint
If you have followed all the above steps and still feel as though the issues are continuing and/or you do not feel as though your employer had listened to you, you can raise a formal complaint against your employer.
If you do chose to raise a formal complaints, providing as much detail as possible will help your employer investigate the issues and will ultimately hopefully led to an outcome where you can achieve resolution and the support at work needed.
Seek specialist advice
Here at Oakwood Solicitors, we have a dedicated team of specialist lawyers.
If you feel as though you have tried to bring the issues to your employers’ attention and you are still suffering with stress at work, we would be happy to discuss the matter further with you.
Please get in touch for a free and confidential assessment if you feel as though you would benefit from some legal support.
Jessica Rowson is a specialist lawyer in the niche legal field of stress at work cases with a particular interest in cases involving matters of workplace bullying, and a member of the Conduct Change Advisory Board. She hopes that by supporting her clients in taking legal action against their employers that companies will become better educated and informed on the importance of good mental health in the workplace and avoid the likelihood of future workplace disputes from arising.
Conduct Change was founded in 2019 with the purpose of changing behaviour in workplaces to create more courageous and compassionate approaches to prevent workplace bullying. The founder, Nicki Eyre, has been through her own workplace bullying experience during her career and recognises the scale of the problem at both an organisational and individual level.