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You have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work

No matter if you’re a small business or a large corporation, the law requires all employers to prevent work related stress to promote, support and sustain good mental health in the workplace.

You need to assess the risk of work-related stress and to put steps in place to tackle those risks. This can reduce sickness absence, boost morale and therefore help improve productivity.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be costly, time-consuming or difficult, and we have got some great tools to help. It only takes 5 steps…

1. Reach out

2. Recognise

3. Respond

4. Reflect

5. Make it Routine


Last year more than 17.9 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression. While the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood, work related stress is the number one reason given for sick days in the UK. A recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that two in five employees mental health has become worse during the pandemic.


Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it.

If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down. But it is useful to do this, so you can review it later, for example if something changes. If you have five or more employees, you are required by law to write the risk assessment down.

Any paperwork you produce should help you communicate and manage the risks in your business. This does not need to be a big exercise – just note the main points about the significant risks and what you decided.

The Health and Safety Executive has created an easy way to record your findings by using a risk assessment template.

It might help to view example risk assessments on stress in small businesses.

Follow a manual added link


HSE has created a Talking Toolkit to assist employers in speaking to their employees and taking the important first step towards preventing work-related stress and developing the actions and stress risk assessment employers need to comply with the law.

The Talking Toolkit should not be used in isolation as an employer’s only response if there is an existing problem with work-related stress in the organisation.

The toolkit has six templates for six different conversations. Each of these has a different theme designed to get line managers and employees talking about issues which may be causing work-related stress or issues which could have the potential to become future causes if not managed properly.

Talking Toolkit: Preventing work-related stress (