It was only a matter of time before my daily alerts on mental health would start showing posts on claiming compensation for mental illness caused by stress in the workplace.
Yes, the “have you experienced stress in the workplace” campaign has started.
“The ambulance chasers are coming and you need to be ready to defend your business or start looking at protecting it”
Now before anyone starts suggesting I’m saying individuals should not consider litigation if they have suffered from mental illness caused by workplace trauma I’m not. My whole life revolves around mental health supporting individuals and businesses using my own experience to create robust programmes to protect both staff and the business.
However, I did not pursue a claim or even speak to a lawyer at the time of my illness. Although I had medical records to back up my breakdown was caused by trauma, witnesses, an email exchange from one of my tormentors apologising for his part in the bullying once he realised how much it impacted on my health (it seems bullying me out came from much higher up the ranks) as well as an email from new management insisting it was an isolated case that would never happen again if I stayed with the company. The truth of the matter is at the time I did not have the strength to fight, my brain was foggy, my anxiety hard to control and I very stupidly thought I could just get over it which resulted in many years of low self-esteem, anxiety and drinking far to much wine to cope! Even now while I carry the scars I could not face reliving the trauma or seeing the people who broke me.
However, for those diagnosed with a mental illness it is not so easy and they are not able to move on. They have no choice but to seek justice to cover the loss of earnings, extortionate private medical bills and the need to bring those responsible for their mental decline to be accountable for their actions. As an appointed advocate I completely get this having seen cases like mine that clearly warrented intervention by a reputable legal advisor to support them through what is a difficult time.
What I do have an issue with is the number of people trying to turn stress in the workplace into mental illness to pursue a claim exagerating their illness which will eventually impact on the people who really do suffer who have to fight harder to prove their illness is real. And all with the help from ambulance chasing companies pushing them to do it with no win no fee offers.
“So why my mistrust of such firms”
Well lets look at the history of ambulance chasers wanting to make a buck out of someone else’s misfortune.
- There are the calls about the car crash you had that left you with whiplash and clearly physcological anemsia when you stress you was ok and they insist you wasn’t and should claim
- The all inclusive holiday you went on that gave you food poisoning which ruined your holiday which appears to be impacting on all travellers thanks to a select few
- The fall you had on the broken pavement slab in the city centre seeking compensation from local councils
These are just a few calls that I have had on personal injury but I suspect there are many more that I am not familiar with and the insurance companies know its a problem too.
So, as a business how can you look after the wellbeing of your staff and also protect your business from claims around stress in the workplace?
Having a wellbeing programme that protects both parties introducing mindfulness and wellbeing into the workplace is proven to be good for business. Making simple changes, having an understanding and being mindful of the health of your staff creates a healthy workforce and protects you from future claims if managed correctly.
If you don’t think its worth having a programme consider the cost mental health currently has on the workplace with sickness, leavers, disruption to operations, recruitment, new staff training and potential litigation costs impacting on the business costing £30 billion a year to the UK workplace.
Wellbeing programmes are tax efficient, can generate discounts on insurance, promote healthy mental wellbeing and mostly it shows that as an organisation you care.
Many organisations are starting to see the benefit of having a wellbeing programme, however many still think its expensive, hard to obtain and still have a “not my problem” attitide when it comes to mental health. The reality is now the ambulance chasers have arrived its everyones problem and if you can remember the growth in status of the ppi and car injury claims I mentioned above imagine what is set to happen with mental illness being such a hot topic.
Having a claim made against you is bad for business.
There is reputational risk, disruption to operations when people are asked to give written statements, stress for the accused (yes your own wellbeing will be tested in this process) and would you really want a case hanging over you while your raising capital for your business which you’d have to declare or pushing to get new staff or that big client if you are involved in a public litigation case.
Wellbeing programmes focusing on mental health are there to ensure people take individual responsibility for their own health and be mindful of the health of others too. Understanding the culture of your business and how poor company culture can impact on staff is as important if you want a productive workforce.
And what of those who really do have a mental illness and need to get legal advice? Please do visit a lawyer who specialises in mental illness cases. They are experts in their field and have years of experience in gross misconduct.
For those who feel the no win no fee ambulance chasers have your best interests at heart pushing you to exagerate your illness think again, they want your case and will do their very best pitch but the only winner in such cases is them. Proving a case of mental illness caused in the workplace can be achieved but do not think it will be easy and will really test you. The boy who cried wolf springs to mind!