Gravity of Harm

“Magnitude of the Risk of Harm Occurring – The Gravity of the Harm”

The employer is only in “breach of duty” if he has failed to take the steps which are reasonable in the circumstances, bearing in mind the “magnitude of the risk of harm occurring, and the gravity of the harm which may occur”, the costs and practicability of preventing it, and the justifications for running the risk. In other words, the bigger the employer, the greater their resources, the greater the onus is upon the employer to act with “due diligence” and prudence with regard to its respective employees, where a “risk of harm” exists, which may be “prejudicial to health”.

With workplace stress, the claimant must show in the employment tribunal /court that that “breach of duty” has “caused” or “materially contributed” to the “harm” suffered. It is not enough to show that occupational stress has caused the harm. Let’s put this into laypersons language. In our own case, we established that the combination of “harassment” and “excessive workload” had “triggered” the reoccurrance of my wife’s panic attacks and depression, and also exacerbated my asthma. Both ‘panic attacks’ – ‘depression’ and ‘asthma’ are recognised disabilities. Therefore, we had the ‘tie in’. Our employer had “constructive knowledge” we were employees with disabilities.

This potentially made the employer liable for disability discrimination. The employer had failed to “assess the risks” and failed to prevent the “detrimental impact” (magnitude of the risk of harm) which, combined with “harassment” had “caused” and “triggered” our disabilities (gravity of harm).

“Work-related stress” is actionable as a “personal injury” claim only in a court. In order to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal, the employee would need to establish that “work-related stress” triggered, caused or materially contributed to a contravention of a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010. In essence, you need to tie it in to something like sex or disability discrimination or harassment.

See. “Workplace Stress“.