Categories
Health & Fitness

Mental ill-health and workplace stress

Mental ill-health and workplace stress can have a serious negative effect on productivity and business efficiency.

The mental health of employees is as important in the workplace as their physical wellbeing.    It includes an individual’s emotional, psychological and social wellbeing and influences how they handle stress. 

Poor mental health can vary from feeling “down” to suffering from anxiety and depression Usually, an individual’s mental health will fluctuate depending on the pressures they are experiencing.

The High Cost Of Ignoring Mental Health In The Workplace

The UK Department of Health advises that one in four people will at some point experience mental health issues and almost six in 10 employees (59%) experience workplace stress. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that stress and mental ill-health were among the most common causes of long-term workplace absence.

An employer’s failure to recognise mental health can be costly. Research shows that mental ill-health costs employers in the UK £30bn each year through lost production, recruitment and absence.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the annual cost of depression and anxiety in the workplace is $1 trillion per year globally. By contrast, the WHO emphasizes that workplaces that proactively promote mental health and support people with mental disorders have lower rates of absenteeism, increased productivity, and benefit from other economic gains.

Employers should take steps to tackle the causes of workplace stress and actively promote positive mental health among employees. This can be done in a variety of ways, from raising awareness, training and seminars to proactive wellbeing initiatives such as yoga classes and gym memberships.

Promoting a culture of good mental health will help to minimise the risk of employment-related mental ill-health and the risk of claims against the employer.

As highlighted in A Call to Action Proceedings from the Mental Health in the Workplace earlier this year, data accumulated over the past decade suggests that “comprehensive wellness programs, that incorporate mental well-being, flatten the cost curve on medical and productivity-related expenditures, allowing the company to return savings to its members.”

So, how can organizations take steps to start prioritizing mental health in the workplace?

Ways Managers Can Proactively Tackle Mental Health In The Workplace

All managers and organizations have the capacity to take the steps required to proactively address mental health issues and, in the process, do a better job supporting their teams, reducing burnout and increasing productivity.

In order to combat workplace stress, employers should:

  • Carry out a stress audit. This could involve asking employees to list any stress-related concerns.
  • Carry out an assessment of the health and safety risks employees are exposed to at work, including an assessment of work-related stress.
  • To show they are committed to taking work-related stress seriously, employers should implement an anti-stress policy. The policy should set out, for example the role and expectations of managers and supervisors to ensure the successful implementation of the policy.
  • Guidance on resolving cases of stress at work for both the employer and employees who might be suffering from stress, for example a confidential helpline and / or an occupational health service.

Employers need to ensure the policy is properly implemented in practice by:

  • Trained managers to recognise situations likely to cause stress, to identify symptoms of stress, and how they should manage stress and promote an appropriate culture.
  • Conduct return-to-work interviews following a period of sickness absence and performance appraisals. This will help to identify any underlying stress-related work absences or performance issues.

Start by taking care of your own mental health needs.

When you’re traveling on a plane with a small child, you’re asked to put your own oxygen mask on first. The same rule holds true for managing mental health. If you’re taking care of yourself, taking care of your team will be a lot easier. Remember, in times of uncertainty, people look up. Whether or not you intend it, people will model your actions.

To begin, start with something simple, sustainable and scalable. For example, make a decision to be more active, eat better and, if it’s an issue, drink less. Start small and build on your momentum.

This is critical:

If you promise yourself that you’re going to start meditating for an hour each day, you’ll likely fail to find the time to meet your target. By keeping your goals realistic, you’ll also be keeping everything in your circle of control.

Reduce the toxic elements in your workplace culture.

Take a long, hard look at your workplace or, better yet, bring in a neutral third party to carry out a 360 assessment. From your location in the corporate suite, the toxic elements in your organization may not be visible.

After all, people often go out of their way to mask problems. A trained workplace coach or facilitator, however, can check in with your employees and help identify patterns that may be making your workplace toxic.

Also, bear in mind that discovering that you have a bullying or harassment issue in your organization isn’t only essential if you want to address mental health concerns — it’s also a compliance issue.

 “Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace” are not just about Harvey Weinstein.

A similar social media campaign is playing out on Instagram among models who are sharing stories of abuse and harassment in the fashion industry.

Managing Stress

In order to combat workplace stress, employers should:

  • Carry out a stress audit. This could involve asking employees to list any stress-related concerns.
  • Carry out an assessment of the health and safety risks employees are exposed to at work, including an assessment of work-related stress.
  • To show they are committed to taking work-related stress seriously, employers should implement an anti-stress policy. The policy should set out, for example the role and expectations of managers and supervisors to ensure the successful implementation of the policy.
  • Guidance on resolving cases of stress at work for both the employer and employees who might be suffering from stress, for example a confidential helpline and / or an occupational health service.

Employers need to ensure the policy is properly implemented in practice by:

  • Trained managers to recognise situations likely to cause stress, to identify symptoms of stress, and how they should manage stress and promote an appropriate culture.
  • Conduct return-to-work interviews following a period of sickness absence and performance appraisals. This will help to identify any underlying stress-related work absences or performance issues.

Dealing with mental ill-health.

A CIPD survey found that “less than half of respondents report that their organisation support employees who experience mental-health problems very well or fairly well, while one in five (20%) say that their organisation supports such employees not very well or not at all.

Almost three respondents in 10 (28%) don’t know how well their employer supports people who experience mental-health problems”. Employers need to do more to ensure that employees feel supported with their mental health and should encourage open channels of communication.

The arbitration service Acas suggests employers could develop action plans to help promote positive mental health.

This could include:

  • The employer’s objectives in relation to mental health and why it is committed to promoting good mental health.

What claims can an employee bring?

Breach of contract – an employee suffering from work related stress might argue that their employer has breached an express or implied term of their contract of employment.  Additionally, the employee is signed off sick from work due to stress or mental health issues and then subsequently dismissed, they might have a claim for unfair dismissal.

Disability discrimination – an employee might be protected from the disability discrimination act if they suffer from mental ill-health issues that have a substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities and anxiety and depression could tall within this definition.

Whether or not an individual’s work-related stress can be regarded as a disability will be for an employment tribunal to decide.

Business professionals lack the necessary training to address mental health in the workplace” and “often lack the skills needed to build a positive work environment where workers feel empowered.

To this end, they advise partnering with experts in mental health to develop executive training programs designed to prepare leaders to build and sustain a mentally healthy workforce. 

If you’re truly committed to addressing mental health in your organization, in 2019, consider the potential return on investment for contracting with or recruiting a partner with expertise on people and mental health.

There is no better way to destigmatize mental health than to make a mental health expert an integral part of your team.

Categories
Tachographs

EU Driver Hours Rules

EU DRIVER’S HOURS RULES – LIMITS FOR DRIVERS OF GOODS VEHICLES OVER 3.5 TONNES GVW

Breaks from driving

Daily driving

Weekly driving

Daily rest

Two-weekly driving

Multi-manning daily rest

Weekly rest

Ferry/train daily rest

A break of no less than 45 minutes must be taken after no more than 4.5 hours of driving. The break can be divided into two periods – the first at least 15 minutes long and the second at least 30 minutes – taken over the 4.5 hours.

Maximum of 9 hours, extendable to 10 hours no more than twice a week.

Maximum of 56 hours

Minimum of 11 hours, which can be reduced to a minimum of 9 hours no more than three times between weekly rests. May be taken in two periods, the first at least 3 hours long and the second at least 9 hours long. The rest must be completed within 24 hours of the end of the last daily or weekly rest period.

Maximum of 90 hours in any two-week period.

A 9-hour daily rest must be taken within a period of 30 hours that starts from the end of the last daily or weekly rest period. For the first hour of multi-manning the presence of another driver is optional, but for the remaining time it is compulsory.

A regular weekly rest of at least 45 hours, or a reduced weekly rest of at least 24 hours, must be started no later than the end of six consecutive 24-hour periods from the end of the last weekly rest. In any two consecutive weeks, a driver must have at least two weekly rests – one of which must be at least 45 hours long. A weekly rest that falls in two weeks may be counted in either week but not in both. Any reductions must be compensated in one block by an equivalent rest added to another rest period of at least 9 hours before the end of the third week, following the week in question.

A regular daily rest period (of at least 11 hours) may be interrupted no more than twice by other activities of not more than 1 hour’s duration in total, provided that the driver is accompanying a vehicle that is travelling by ferry or train and provided that the driver has access to a bunk or couchette.

WORKING TIME DIRECTIVE

The rules are:

A maximum average 48 hour working week – this is normally calculated over a fixed 17 (occasionally 18) week reference period which the Government defines. However, reference periods may be extended up to a maximum of 26 weeks and changed to different fixed calendar periods by collective (union) or workforce agreement.

A maximum cap of 60 hours working time in any fixed week – the fixed week starts at 00.00 hours on each Monday and finishes at 24.00 hours the following Sunday.

A maximum limit of 10 hours in any 24 hours period for night workers – for goods vehicle operations, a night worker is someone who works for any time between 00.00 hours and 04.00 hours. This night work limit may be varied by collective or workforce agreement, but all other rules and limits still apply, including tachograph rules.

Breaks from work – You may not work for more than 6 hours without a break. A 30-minute break is needed if your total working time is over 6 but not over 9 hours, or 45 minutes is needed if your total working time is over 9 hours.

Daily and weekly rest as specified in the tachograph rules.

Categories
Professional Driver

Safety fears over smart motorways

The rollout of ‘smart’ motor­ways should be stopped, a cross-party group of MPs has said that Politicians and campaigners have cited a number of safety issues with the scheme, claiming drivers and recovery workers are put at risk. By Glen Keogh

On smart motorways, which now account for more than 100 miles in Eng­land, the hard shoulder becomes a fourth lane with variable speed limits controlling the flow of traffic. A further 225 miles of smart – or All Lane Run­ning [ALR] – motorways are planned.

In 2017, there were 16 crashes on smart motorways involving stationary vehicles, such as broken-down cars, figures from Highways England show.

In contrast, there were 29 crashes involving vehicles parked on the hard shoulder across the rest of England’s motorways, stretching about 1,800 miles.

According to campaigners, the lack of a hard shoulder gives those who have broken down nowhere safe to pull over.

Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, who is a member of the recently-formed all-party par-liamentary group focusing on road safety, said the rollout of smart motorways should be halted with immediate effect.

‘We need the Government to pause and reflect on whether Other MPs backing the motion include ex-transport minister Sir Mike Penning and former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

 They have teamed up with the Campaign for Safer Roadside Rescue and Recovery, which also wants the smart, motorway roll­out to be stopped and for recov­ery workers to be able to use red flashing lights rather than orange.

It is led by Samantha Cockerill, whose partner Steve Godbold – a vehicle recovery worker – was killed by a HGV which had strayed on to the hard shoulder of the M25.

Another victim, Ellie Montgomery, suffered a hairline neck fracture and her husband and child were knocked unconscious when they were hit after breaking down by a HGV trav­elling at 50mph on the M6.

She said: ‘It turns the motorway into a death trap. There is no amount of technology that can over­come the danger of not having a hard shoulder as a safety net.’

A spokesman for Highways Eng­land said: ‘Smart motorways are good for drivers; they add extra lanes giving extra space so more people can travel, they use technol­ogy which makes journeys more reliable and evidence proves they are as safe as traditional motor­ways, which are already among the safest roads in the world.’

But he added on smart sections of the Ml, M3 and M5, emergency areas were being made more visible and systems were being introduced to detect stationary vehicles.

Earlier this year, it emerged that fines for speeding on smart motor­ways had doubled in a year and increased tenfold in five years.

In 2017, 72,348 people were fined on motorways with variable speed limits. Of the fines issued, two-thirds were imposed on motorists driving at 69mph or below.

Categories
Tachographs

Drivers’ hours and goods vehicles

Within Great Britain (GB), either GB domestic or EU rules may apply. For international journeys, either the EU rules or the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) may apply.

Which set of rules applies depends on the type of driving and the type of vehicle being used, and, in the case of international journeys, the countries to be visited.

Most vehicles used for the carriage of goods by road and with a maximum permissible weight (including any trailer or semi-trailer) of over 3.5 tonnes are in scope of the EU rules. ‘Carriage by road’ is defined as any journey entirely or in part made on roads open to the public of a vehicle, laden or unladen, used for the carriage of passengers or goods.

‘Off-road’ driving is in scope where it forms part of a journey that also takes place on public roads. Journeys made that are entirely ‘off-road’ are out of scope of the EU rules.

International journeys to or through countries that are outside the EU but are signatories to the AETR are subject to AETR rules.

International journeyAn international journey means a journey to or from another EU member state, including the part of the journey within the UK.

For journeys that are partly in the EU and partly in countries that are neither in the EU nor signatories to AETR, EU rules will apply to that portion of the journey that is in the EU. Countries outside the EU and AETR are likely to have their own regulations governing drivers’ hours, which should be adhered to while you are driving in that country.

Vehicles that are exempted from the EU rules come under GB domestic rules on drivers’ hours while engaged in domestic journeys.

This flowchart will help you determine which rules apply in connection with the use of a goods vehicle.

EU, AETR and EEA countries

EU countries

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Reminder: Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but follows EUrules.

AETR countries

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Kazakhstan
  • Leichtenstein
  • Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan

EEA countries

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Domestic driving limits

Driving is defined as being at the controls of a vehicle for the purposes of controlling its movement, whether it is moving or stationary with the engine running, even for a short period of time.

Daily driving

In any working day the maximum amount of driving permitted is 10 hours.

The daily driving limit applies to driving on and off the public road. 

Off-road driving for the purposes of agriculture, quarrying, forestry, building work or civil engineering counts as duty rather than driving time.

Day: The day is the 24-hour period beginning with the start of duty time.

Daily duty

In any working day the maximum amount of duty permitted is 11 hours. A driver is exempt from the daily duty limit (11 hours) on any working day when they do not drive.

A driver who does not drive for more than 4 hours on each day of the week is exempt from the daily duty limit for the whole week.

Week: Is the period from 0000 hrs on a Monday to 2400 hrs the following Sunday.

Duty: In the case of an employee driver, this means being on duty (whether driving or otherwise) for anyone who employs them as a driver.

This includes all periods of work and driving, but does not include rest or breaks. Employers should also remember that they have additional obligations to ensure that drivers receive adequate rest under health and safety legislation.

For owner drivers, this means driving a vehicle connected with their business, or doing any other work connected with the vehicle and its load.

Drivers of certain vehicles are exempt from the duty but not the driving limit, namely – goods vehicles, including dual purpose vehicles, not exceeding a maximum permitted gross weight of 3.5 tonnes, when used:

  • by doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives or vets
  • for any service of inspection, cleaning, maintenance, repair, installation or fitting
  • by commercial travellers when carrying goods (other than personal effects) only for the purpose of soliciting orders
  • by the AA, RAC or RSAC
  • for cinematography or radio and television broadcasting

The Great Britain domestic rules, as contained in the Transport Act 1968, apply to most goods vehicles that are exempt from the EU rules. Separate rules apply to Northern Ireland.

You must keep written records of your hours of work on a weekly record sheet if you are the driver of a goods vehicle that requires an Operator Licence and you drive for more than 4 hours in that day. 

Suppliers of record books containing weekly record sheets can be found on the internet.

Alternatively, an EU-approved and sealed tachograph may be used to record a driver’s activities while they are subject to domestic drivers’ hours rules.

When recording in this manner, and where domestic records are legally required (see flowchart below), all rules on the fitment and use of the tachograph must be complied with see Section 4

Where a tachograph is fitted to a vehicle subject to the domestic rules but is not used to produce a legally required record, the operator and driver should nevertheless ensure that the tachograph is properly calibrated and sealed.

The tachograph does not have to be recalibrated provided the seals remain intact and the vehicle remains out of scope of the EU rules.

Exemptions from keeping records

Some groups are exempt from requirements to keep records under domestic rules on drivers’ hours.

Follow the flowchart below to determine whether you must keep records.

The GB domestic rules are relaxed in cases where immediate preventative action is needed to avoid:

  • danger to the life or health of people or animals
  • serious interruption of essential public services (gas, water, electricity or drainage), of telecommunication or postal services, or in the use of roads, railways, ports or airports
  • serious damage to property

In these cases the driving and duty limits are suspended for the duration of the emergency.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/drivers-hours-goods-vehicles/2-great-britain-domestic-rules#records-for-vehicles-carrying-postal-articles

Tachographs must be fitted and used on all vehicles with a permissible maximum weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes that carry parcels and letters on postal services. Drivers of such vehicles may be exempt from the EU rules on drivers’ hours (see EU rules exemptions) but, if so, must still comply with the GB domestic rules.

Working time rules

The working time rules that apply to you depend on whether you drive a vehicle in scope of the EU or GB domestic drivers’ hours rules.

Working time rules

The working time rules that apply to you depend on whether you drive a vehicle in scope of the EU or GB domestic drivers’ hours rules.

Driving under the EU drivers’ hours rules

If you operate a vehicle in scope of the EU drivers’ hours rules, then you are subject to the Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 (as amended – ‘the 2005 Regulations’), unless you are an occasional mobile worker (see text boxes at the end of this Annex for definitions).

The main provisions of the 2005 Regulations are as follows:

  • weekly working time must not exceed an average of 48 hours per week over the reference period – a maximum working time of 60 hours can be performed in any single week providing the average 48-hour limit is not exceeded
  • night work: if night work is performed, working time must not exceed 10 hours in any 24-hour period. Night time is the period between 00.00 and 04.00 for goods vehicles and between 01.00 and 05.00 for passenger vehicles. The 10-hour limit may be exceeded if this is permitted under a collective or workforce agreement
    • breaks:
    • mobile workers must not work more than 6 consecutive hours without taking a break
    • if your working hours total between 6 and 9 hours, working time should be interrupted by a break or breaks totalling at least 30 minutes
    • if your working hours total more than 9 hours, working time should be interrupted by a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes
    • breaks should be of at least 15 minutes’ duration
  • rest: the regulations are the same as the EU or AETR drivers’ hours rules
  • record keeping: records need to be kept for two years after the period in question

The reference period for calculating the 48-hour week is normally 17 weeks, but it can be extended to 26 weeks if this is permitted under a collective or workforce agreement.

There is no ‘opt-out’ for individuals wishing to work longer than an average 48-hour week, but breaks and ‘periods of availability’ do not count as working time.

Generally speaking, a period of availability (POA) is waiting time, the duration of which is known about in advance. Examples of what might count as a POAare accompanying a vehicle on a ferry crossing or waiting while other workers load/unload your vehicle.

For mobile workers driving in a team, a POA would also include time spent sitting next to the driver while the vehicle is in motion (unless the mobile worker is taking a break or performing other work ie navigation).

In addition, you are affected by two provisions under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended – ‘the 1998 Regulations’).

These are:

  • an entitlement to 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave
  • health checks for night workers

If you only occasionally drive vehicles subject to the EU drivers’ hours rules, you may be able to take advantage of the exemption from the 2005 Regulations for occasional mobile workers (see text box below to see if you meet the criteria).

Self-employed drivers were brought in scope of the EU Working Time Directive 2002/15/EC in GB in May 2012, by the Road Transport (Working Time) Amendment Regulations 2012.

DVSA enforces the provisions of the 2005 Regulations and the requirement for health checks for night workers (under the 1998 Regulations).

If you have any questions about matters relating to annual leave, call the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) national helpline on 0300 123 1100, for free support and advice.