What Care Of Duty Should An Employer Show If You Are Absent Due To Stress? (A Guide)

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This article will take a look at what duty of care should an employer show if you are absent with stress. What an employer should do if they find out that their employee is absent due to stress. Also, the article will highlight potential causes of stress that exist at the workplace. Furthermore, the symptoms of stress will also be listed in the article.

What Care Of Duty Should An Employer Show If You Are Absent Due To Stress?

An employer must take the necessary steps to ensure you return back to work in a healthy state of mind by adopting the following:

  • Dealing with the source of stress at work
  • Altering your work hours
  • Accommodating your need to rest by allowing you to work from home partially
  • Reducing your workload
  • Arranging an occupational health assessor to assess your condition
  • Identifying any potential stressors at the workplace and removing them.
  • Training staff at the workplace to work together as a team in a healthy manner

These are some steps that an employer can take to ensure you come back to work in a healthier state and do not face any future sources of stress at least from the workplace!

Workplace Stress & The Employer’s Duty Of Care

Employers are required by the law to provide a safe work environment that ensures the mental and physical wellbeing of employees. Mental health has become a serious concern in countries like the UK where occupational health assessors visit the workplace to ensure enough is done to ensure health and safety for employees.

The employer is required to identify potential sources of stress or danger for their employees and remove them as soon as possible. In case an employee experiences stress, then the employer is required to help the employee so that they recover from the stress and can return back to their normal routine.

Symptoms Of Stress

Let us take a look at the symptoms of stress!

According to WebMD, the following symptoms reflect stress:

Emotional symptoms

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others

Physical symptoms

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

Cognitive symptoms

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Behavioral symptoms

  • Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Sources Of Stress At The Workplace

Here are the sources of stress that we will take a look at in this section:

  • Too Much Workload
  • No Facilities
  • Toxic Coworkers
  • A Boss That Humiliates

Let us take a look at them one by one!

Too Much Workload

Sometimes employers can be irrational and throw a huge amount of workload on their employees! This can be very stressful for employees who will not only not be able to achieve their targets but also start doubting their own selves.

No Facilities

Sometimes employees have special needs – they may suffer from a certain disease, disability or additional responsibilities like a sick family member and hence they need some sort of accommodation from their employer. When they do not get this it becomes difficult to work and hence they are stressed out!

A Toxic Coworker – How To Identify One

Dealing with toxic coworkers is a draining experience that leaves you feeling exhausted and mentally incapable of doing any productive work. They will use smart tactics to keep the blame off themselves and actually revel in the misery other coworkers face sometimes with the ‘I told you so’ attitude. What exactly is the purpose of a toxic coworker is an entirely different debate – however we do know that they want to show others that they are always right and will do anything to prove their innocence or challenge the assumptions or attacks made on them.

According to most definitions, a toxic coworker is someone who engages in harmful behavior that causes damage to a company’s employees and property. This damage is not restricted to these two but can also affect customer’s satisfaction or happiness, sales and profits as well as the reputation of the business. 

These individuals are the ones people will mostly avoid because they realize the metal traps set by these toxic people and how difficult it is to avoid them. You will see people trying to avoid being in their team, working with them on an assignment or having to talk to them about a certain issue.

Nonetheless, here are 3 ways you can identify a toxic coworker:

  • Play The Victim – Avoid Blame
  • The Talk of the Town – Gossip
  • Passive Aggressive Comments

Play The Victim – Avoid Blame

One of the most common traits you will see in a toxic coworker is that they will always avoid the blame and try to play innocent. This is most common during team work when they not only have a number of excuses to escape being held responsible but there are countless ways to make others feel miserable or stressed out.

These individuals, despite not being productive or hard working, will become defenseless if someone points out they have not done their due part. Furthermore, these individuals consider these personal attacks on their integrity and turn it into an entirely different conversation. They will act innocent and try to convince others that they were doing the right thing but people only see the bad – ironic right?

New employees can easily be targeted by these cunning workers – they will act quick to influence them with regards to how they view company policy, other employees or work practices.

The Talk of the Town – Gossip

They won’t tell you much about themselves but they love to gossip! These toxic coworkers will breed negativity in the workplace. They will spread rumors, exaggerate the smallest of stories and try to add as much drama as they can to the problems others are going through. This eventually leads to distrust, demotivation and lack of productivity in the workplace.

It is often too late to escape the company of such individuals because of how late you realize the entire reality. Another sign of toxic coworkers is that they react negatively when you set healthy boundaries.

Passive Aggressive Comments

As we mentioned earlier, toxic coworkers want to make you feel miserable or put down hence they will find or already have many ways of belittling you or putting you down. They feed on negativity, destructive criticism and putting others down. They will engage in the following to achieve this:

  • Silent Treatment – Make You Feel Uncomfortable
  • Don’t Take You Seriously – Sarcasm
  • Blaming others
  • Rejecting feedback and others perspectives
  • Countless Excuses
  • A Cynical Attitude
  • An Air of Superiority

A Boss That Humiliates

Humiliation is the shame and embarrassment you feel when someone makes you appear wrong, stupid or less in some way or ther other. It is a negative experience where you experience many feelings due to what the other person does or says.

Humiliation at the workplace is frequent; it can be experienced when someone pushes you so that your coffee spills, you might be made to look stupid because your work was not up to the ‘mark’ or your embarrassing story from last year may be retold repeatedly. It can also involve your boss screaming or shouting at you for a little mistake that did not deserve such apprehension. There are many forms of humiliation but it can be driven by various motives.

Someone may want to humiliate you because they have something in it for them. Your boss may actually want you out of the job so that someone can replace you. He may even feel insecure because of you and your accomplishments and may make you want to look stupid or feel miserabke in an attempt to make you leave the company. There could be other reasons. He may not like you and that is one reason enough for many people to embarrass or humiliate others. 


This article took a look at what your employer should do if you are absent due to stress. The article also highlighted the symptoms and sources of stress that can lead to an employee being absent from work.



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