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Stress and Bad publicity

10 April 2001 - Bad publicity from large pay settlements won by the victims of work-related stress are a greater cause of concern to employers than the actual sum awarded says Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology at the Manchester School of Management in a new book `Stress and Employer Liability' published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

According to Cooper: "The longer term problem of bad publicity leads to serious problems in attracting and retaining good employees. Employers would be wise not to ignore the damage such litigation can do to their reputations. Take for example the 300,000 recently awarded to the primary school teacher and the coverage it attracted.

"The tight labour market means there is intense competition at the top for the best talent and prospective employees are becoming more and more choosy about the type of organisation they want to work for - employer brand in today's climate really does matter."

The book covers legislation on workplace stress and puts the topic into a historical context. As the UK's principal 'stress guru' Professor Cooper offers practical advice on dealing with the problem, including stressor reduction and stress-management techniques and employee assistance programmes.

Professor Cooper adds that: "Employers should try and concentrate on preventative measures to avoid cases reaching the tribunal stage. Organisations need to take action such as a risk assessment, which shows they have taken the necessary steps to satisfy their legal duty of care to employees. A stress audit is also a good idea to diagnose potential problems and identify those individuals most at risk."

Stress and Employer Liability also addresses other costs assciated with stress. 164,000 claims for stress-related illness and injury were recorded by UK employers last year - an increase of more than a third on the previous year. Every day 270,000 Brits take time off work because of stress - costing 7 billion pounds in lost production, sickness payments and NHS charges.

Cary Cooper concludes: "Workplace stress is a growing problem and the costs of ignoring it are too high. The motto for all employers in the 21st Century needs to be 'ignore stress at your peril'."

The book is available from

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