Investigating potential issues of work-related stress

HSE will only consider investigating potential issues of work-related stress where it is evident that several employees are experiencing work-related stress or related ill health. 

We will not generally investigate individual cases reported by employees and others, and decisions about HSE's investigations are made in light of other operational priorities meaning we will not respond to all reports of work-related stress.

HSE is not the appropriate body to investigate bullying or harassment:

  • Bullying and harassment, and similar issues of organisational discipline, should be referred to Acas (e.g. breaches of policies on expected behaviours, discrimination, victimisation or equality) - HSE is not the primary authority for these issues.
  • Discrimination in relation to the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 may constitute an offence and should be referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission or Equality Advisory and Support Service.
  • The Police deal with offences under criminal law including where there is physical violence or a breach of the Protection from Harassment Act.

How to report a work-related stress concern

Criteria for potential investigation

HSE will consider investigating work-related stress:

  • Where there is evidence of a wider organisational failing.
  • Where there is evidence that a number of staff are currently experiencing work-related stress or related ill health (i.e. that it is not an individual case).
  • Where the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 can be applied.

HSE won't investigate when:

  • Concerns about work-related stress have not already been raised with the employer and sufficient time has not elapsed for the employer to respond.
  • There is other more specific legislation or a more appropriate regulator or other authority.

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Updated: 2024-02-12