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Work-related stress linked to recession

The global economic downturn led levels of work-related stress in the UK to soar, a British Academy report says.

Author Tarani Chandola, a University of Manchester sociologist, says those who kept jobs during the recession are affected as much as those left jobless.

He said that in each of the last two years, work stress levels rose by more than four percent, compared to annual rises between 0.1 percent and one percent from 1992 to 2009.

A CBI spokesman said businesses took staff health very seriously.

Professor Chandola compiled existing evidence from peer-reviewed journals and major UK surveys to obtain a comprehensive view of work-related stress.

He told BBC News that work stress had been increasing steadily in Britain since the 1990s, but warned it had especially increased in the last recession.

“It's likely to continue to increase because of the determinants of work stress: changes in working conditions and the government spending,” he added.

The report says that the public sector will be the most affected, and Professor Chandola said it was in the public sector that people have reported a significant increase in work hours.

The report warns job insecurity and unemployment rates tend to go hand in hand - whenever one of these factors rises, the other one jumps up as well.

“And [since] there are more women in the public sector workforce than men, that's why we expect to see this effect hitting women workers particularly,” said Professor Chandola.

He said that since there was no law in the UK that forced managers to tackle their employees' stress levels, it was impossible to know for sure what exactly employers were doing for their staff.

The Health and Safety Executive, which oversees workplace health, safety and welfare, has set up a number of management standards on tackling work stress.

These standards suggest surveying employees regularly to keep on track of any potential problems of work-related anxiety or depression in the work force. They also propose different action plans to actively reduce stress in a company.

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Published December 21, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 21, 2010 at 6:27 am)

Work-related stress linked to recession

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