Headlines: October 15th, 2002

The public service union, UNISON, is urging employers to look at what it calls the “real issues” which lead to stress at work. The union has criticised measures like stress management courses which it says are quick fix solutions that do not work.The call coincides with the publication by the union of a new guide designed to tackle stress in the workplace. It includes advice on what can be done to prevent stress at source, practical steps to reduce it and even a draft stress prevention policy.

Hugh Robertson, UNISON’s head of Heath and Safety, said it was in the best interests of both workers and employers to eliminate stress which was now the biggest cause of absence from work. He said the union was committed to working in partnership with employers and the enforcing bodies to combat what he described as an epidemic.

” Employers have to start addressing the real issues behind stress such as long hours, bullying and excessive demands, rather than looking at quick fix solutions, such as stress management courses, which do nothing to get rid of the underlying problems causing stress and have no real long-term benefits,” he said.

Latest figures show stress is costing the UK economy £7 billion a year with more than a quarter of a million people off work at any time.