Compensation claims for stress at work

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For us to investigate a claim for work-related stress, you need to be able to answer “yes” to the following:

  1. Did your stress symptoms start within the last 3 years?
  2. Is your employer aware you are suffering work-related stress?
  3. Have you seen your GP about it?

If this is the case, then please download and return our

Please note we cannot handle stress claims for Scotland or Northern Ireland residents.

If you also have a physical injury, we can help straight away –

Certain jobs can place heavy burdens of stress on an employee. Some are inherently stressful, such as high-pressure roles in the emergency services, but even relatively easy jobs have their moments.

In the eyes of many people, stress itself is a ‘nothing’ illness and simply a convenient excuse to avoid work. However, the health problems caused by severe stress (such as anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, nausea, weight loss and loss of appetite) can be debilitating and have serious consequences. Further connections are seen with work-related depression and other psychological illnesses, all of which can have a factor in compensation settlements.

Here we look at whether you can hold your employer responsible for mental distress and make a personal injury claim for stress at work.

Employer responsibilities to reduce stress

All employers have a duty of care towards the health of their staff, which includes the prevention of stress-related illnesses. They must ensure that as much assistance, training, support and guidance is offered to staff as possible, so that stress at work can be avoided. If they don’t, they may be sued for causing unnecessary stress to an employee.

In most cases, the employer is first placed on notice of concerns about potential damage to the health of an employee, as a result of the working conditions that the employee is being placed under. This gives the employer an opportunity to make alterations to the working conditions so that the cause of stress can be removed.

If an employer has been made aware of the problems, but has failed to take any action to reduce the risks to their employees’ health, they are likely to be liable for the stress-related illness suffered by an employee, should they pursue a claim for compensation.

Can you claim compensation for stress at work?

If stress has left you unable to work, you may be wondering how to cope with a loss of wages and perhaps whether claiming compensation is an option.

The short answer to this question is yes, you have a right to claim for an injury at work that wasn’t your fault, including stress. More precisely, for the health problems it causes. However, you can only do so if the stress-related illness is severe enough to warrant making a claim and a medical diagnosis has been made.

There’s no black and white definition of what constitutes stressful work, as we’re all affected differently in a variety of situations. It boils down to ‘what is a personal injury‘ and an understanding of the same. Psychological health is treated the same as physical health, and therefore damage to your psychological well-being through stress is, in effect, a personal injury.

If a genuine stress-related illness, caused by the conditions under which an employer has made you work, could be described as a personal injury, and if it can be shown that your stress is down to employer negligence, you have a very good chance of successfully claiming personal injury compensation. To find out more about what’s involved, I’d recommend reading our ultimate guide to claiming accident at work compensation.

Please note that although we can assist with claims for all regions of the United Kingdom, we cannot assist with work related stress compensation claims for people employed in Scotland.

Workplace stress claim payouts

Claims for work related stress compensation fall within the personal injury remit and can be pursued on a No Win No Fee basis.  However, as this is a very specialist niche area within personal injury and as such claims are notoriously difficult to pursue and succeed with, a claimant will face a deduction from settlement of up to 35% of any awarded damages if successful (inclusive of VAT).  Whilst the deduction may fall below the maximum of 35%, claimants can rest assured that any deduction from a successful stress at work compensation claim settlement will never exceed 35%.

Causes of stress-related illness

Typical working conditions that can lead to stress-related illness are:

  • Bullying and harassment. This is defined by the government as behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. This can include unfair treatment, being picked on, undermined or blocked for progression, whether face-to-face, by letter, email or phone. Similarly, abuse, threats or excessive demands will lead to a stressful environment.
  • Lack of support. If an employee is not given adequate support, assistance or guidance, they may well lack confidence, feel overwhelmed and under too much pressure.
  • Workload. There is only so much work that any one person can undertake. If an employer is placing unrealistic demands on an employee, forcing them to work long hours, for example, stress-related illness is a likely outcome.
  • Denial of employee rights. The rights of workers in the United Kingdom are enshrined in law, such as the right to rest periods, breaks and annual leave. If an employer denies these rights to their workers, they can be stressed and have low morale.

How to report stress at work

Employees have rights when they are injured physically or psychologically at work. For many people suffering stress at work, sorting out the situation informally would be the first step. If this isn’t possible, you can talk with your manager, HR department or trade union. If that doesn’t work, you can make a formal complaint to your employer. And if that doesn’t work, you should get some expert advice to see if you can take legal action and claim compensation – download and return our stress at work questionnaire to see if you have a valid claim.


464 questions have been answered on this subject - comments are now closed.

Comments & Questions

Read on for questions and advice about claiming, plus stress at work claim examples...

We can help you to find out whether or not you can make a claim for work related stress compensation. To do so, you would need to email us ( to request a questionnaire to complete and return. Once we have received your completed questionnaire, we can pass this matter to our specialist in such matters to review and they would then contact you directly to offer you advice on this matter.

You may also wish to make enquiries with an employment law specialist in order to discuss with them whether or not you have any rights to pursue a separate claim under employment law.

I had an accident at work that led to high sick leave. My Doctor advised a redeployment from the work role but my employer refused to support me. Rather my employer ignored the sick notes from my doctor and asked me to tell my doctor to sign me off work. My working life became hell leading to stress. This led me to resign. Can I make a case?

Ian Morris

Effectively, you state that you resigned from your work as you feel that your employer forced you to do so by refusing to make reasonable changes to your work and added much stress to your situation. If this is the case, you may have rights to pursue action but it would be under employment law that you could seek to claim for constructive dismissal and we cannot advise or assist with that issue. You should discuss this particular issue with an employment law Solicitor.

With regards to the injury you suffered at work that caused the initially high sick leave, we may be able to assist you with that and help you to make a claim against your former employer for the injury sustained. If your accident at work happened less than 3 years ago you would be within claim limitation and should contact us to further discuss the accident so that we can help you to ascertain whether or not you can pursue a claim against your former employer.

I currently work for a company which after a year of employment, the ceo and founder has decided he wants to employ someone else in a separate role to mine in a sales capacity and as my role is not in sales (i work as digital content manager) there has been mention that for him to have the funds needed to employ someone else, my job might be thrown out to make way. He said my role needs to be monetised and i need to find something to do for the company…. I am literally working the job I was employed to do and now apparently that’s not enough!

This is causing me a huge amount of anxiety and stress and I would like to know that when I leave (I’m actively looking for a new role) if I could claim compensation for stress as I’m currently in a weird limbo where i feel i could be fired at any second with no clear direction as to what is going on with my role?

Ian Morris

To protect your interests and at least give a possible route to claiming work related stress compensation, you need to ensure that the conversations you have had with your CEO and founder are put in to writing. You should email them outlining their conversation with you and that you are anxious and stressed due to their intention to employ someone in your place. If nothing is put in writing, there will be no record of the issues and your employer would not be pursuable for compensation.

Your situation is something that should be discussed with an employment law Solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau at this stage.

I have been off work since 10th July 2019 due to anxiety, in such time my employer has left my sicknote for all to see – customers and staff, he’s made comments that I took as a threat, he’s talked about me in front of customers telling them he doesn’t even want me to come back. Do I have a claim?

Ian Morris

To find out if you can make a claim, please email our team at to request our initial questionnaire to complete and return. On receipt of your completed questionnaire, we’ll be able to pass the enquiry to a specialist in work related stress and anxiety to review. The specialist would then contact you directly to advise you as to whether or not you can make a claim against your employer.

I have been signed off work and my surgeon has signed me off. Work called me saying i could go back for one hour a day but i do not want to go against consultants advice, feel intimidated and bullied, cried on phone to my manager. I don’t feel well enough to go back and not going against surgeon advice what should i do to protect myself and my job?

Ian Morris

You should discuss this with your Doctor and ask them for their advice as to whether or not the employer is making a demand of you that could jeopardise your recovery. If the Doctor feels that an hour a day is safe, you could return to work. However, if the Doctor felt that you are not yet in a position to work for an hour per day, they could write to the employer on your behalf advising of the same.

You may be able to pursue your soon to be former employer for the work related stress that you have suffered with. We can help you to find out whether or not making a claim is possible. To take this further, please email us to request an initial questionnaire. When we have that back from you, our expert will be able to review the information and can then contact you directly to advise as to whether or not they can take this further for you.

You can request the questionnaire by emailing us at:

Unfair dismissal is an employment law matter and you would need to seek the advice of an employment law Solicitor for assistance with your situation.

If you call us, you’ll speak with one of our initial team and not a Solicitor. Our team would be able to take some initial basic information and then pass the details to a specialist Solicitor who would be able to contact you directly.

If you would prefer not to repeat yourself, you could email us a brief synopsis of your situation and case along with a contact number. We would be able to pass that to our Solicitors for you so that they could call you directly and have a detailed qualified conversation with you. If you would like to do that, please email us at

You may also need to seek some employment law advice as well as consider claiming compensation for work related stress. Whether or not your employers are acting correctly is something that an employment law Solicitor could advise upon.

However, with regards to the stress you feel the employers actions place upon you and your general health, we can investigate that matter. Once you have completed an initial questionnaire, we’ll pass the details to our specialist to review and they would contact you directly to advise as to your prospects of pursing a claim for work related stress against your employer.

I’ve been diagnosed with stress and depression caused by a work incident, been off work since august, sick leave, not likely to return due to a supervisor’s abusive behaviour towards me, am i able to claim anything?

Ian Morris

Please obtain a questionnaire to complete and return by emailing our team at Once we have your completed questionnaire, we’ll be able to seek specialist advice from an expert for you as to whether or not you can take a claim further and seek damages.

Hello, I was signed off of work for 2 weeks related to stress by my GP a few months ago as I was working late shifts and found that I had no work/life balance. After returning I was moved to a different job role and was offered to work earlier shifts which worked much better for me. However recently I have been placed on late shifts far more regularly than not and I have discussed with my supervisor that I do not want to work late shifts. For the following 4 weeks, I have been scheduled for every single one of my shifts despite making it clear that working late is causing me debilitating stress. I have discussed with my supervisor what days I am available and they have ignored that and placed me on times that are inconvenient for me, I am the only member of staff on the team that is treated like this, would I be entitled to make a claim regarding this? Many thanks.

Ian Morris

Please email our team at to request our work related stress questionnaire. Once you’ve sent that back to us, our specialist can review the information given and contact you directly to advise as to whether or not a claim can proceed.

This matter is more likely to be considered an employment law issue and not a personal injury one. With this in mind, we feel that you should make immediate contact with an employment law Solicitor to discuss the reference issued by your previous employer. There are guidelines around what information should or should not be placed in a reference and in most cases, only negative issues that have been dealt with through official disciplinary procedures should be noted and not passing comment or opinion.

To find out whether or not you can pursue a claim for the stress and anxiety that you feel your employer is causing, please complete and return our questionnaire. Once we have it from you, we’ll hand it to our specialist to review and they would then contact you to advise you regarding your situation and confirm whether or not a claim can proceed.

You can request the questionnaire by emailing us at

With specific regards to making a claim for compensation, the most likely route to pursue a successful claim will be by making a claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme. This is because your injuries were caused by a criminal assault and the liability for your injuries – both physical and emotional rest with the criminal who assaulted you. To make a claim, you have two choices and should be aware that you don’t have to instruct a Solicitor to pursue such action. You can claim directly via the CICA or you can choose to instruct a specialist Solicitor via ourselves to make your claim. Having a Solicitor represent you would ensure that your best interests are represented and that your claim is handled appropriately. However, you would instruct a Solicitor on the basis of a No Win No Fee agreement and whilst you would pay nothing if your claim failed, you would contribute up to 25% of any compensation settlement towards the costs of the claim. If you choose to self-represent, you won’t pay the 25% but you will have to deal with the claim directly and handle all correspondence and you won’t be certain as to whether or not the responses or any compensation offers from the CICA are appropriate or correct.

With regards to the fact that you have left your place of work, there may be a separate claim to consider – either for work related stress or under employment law.

Hi, I have been off work for last 5 weeks due to depression and anxiety. This was caused due to stress at work (overload of work) and also due to one manager who I was working with for 2 months before I was signed off sick. I had raised this with the manager in question who was not helpful and also emailed another Senior Manager who I report to regarding my concerns when I went off sick. I mentioned in my email that I can be contacted any time. Since being off sick no one has contacted me to discuss the issues I had raised (I only mentioned work overload) and have not been able to discuss the bullying caused by the manager. I am due back to work next week and really scared as my issues have not been resolved and I will be consulting the GP further as I’m not in any better position to go back to work. According to our work policy I should have been contacted after being off sick for 4 weeks and referred to OP if needed. However I have heard nothing from my employers and thinking I should now contact HR directly as I am not in any position to go back to work next week. Please can you advise if I should be making any further claim? Thank you.

Ian Morris

Please email our team at to request our work related stress questionnaire. Once we have received your completed questionnaire, we’ll pass it to our work related stress specialist to review. They would then contact you directly to advise as to whether or not a claim can proceed.

It is understandable that the process you had to go through would be stressful and upsetting. However, the employer may well be seen to have acted properly in that they are obliged to undertake a serious investigation if an allegation of misconduct is made and given the financial element of the allegation, for them to suspend you would seem reasonable.

Being investigated or suspended is not a judgement of guilt, but simply allows for a proper investigation and hearing. As you have been found to be innocent, the appropriate course of action in the first place would be to take out a grievance against the employer for the process that you were subjected to and make mention of the stress, anxiety and your concerns about returning to work for them. If the outcome of the grievance is not satisfactory for you, you could then investigate making a claim against them for stress and anxiety.

I was the manager of a residential 55 bedded retirement home with extra care. After a transformation (which effected several sites across the country), the care manager became my manager and I became a team leader. I have lost 5k in pay and my work load is still the same and I still manage staff and have the same responsibilities. The emails I used to get go to my manager but she sends them to me to answer. my area manager has never supported me since I started the job 2 years ago and thinks my job is now different because my manager gets the emails!
I fell pregnant 2 weeks before the transformation and I have asked for enhanced maternity pay because I was still a manager at the time but the company have denied my request.
I feel I’m constantly depressed and emotional since this transformation started but have never taken any sick leave. Do I have any grounds to make a formal complaint?

Ian Morris

Our view is that you should seek some specialist advice from an expert Solicitor working within employment law. You should certainly take out a formal grievance procedure against the employer for the issues you raise here and discuss them with an employment law expert as you potentially have legal rights regarding the changes made by your employer and if so, they would need to be enforced under such legislation.

Your query requires qualified advice from an employment law Solicitor and we would recommend that you make contact with a suitably specialist Solicitor.

Unfortunately, you are outside of the legal time limit to pursue any action for a claim of personal injury. The law is quite strict in terms of limitation and requires that any person over the age of 18 years MUST make a claim within 3 years of the date of an accident or incident.

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