Stress is probably the most common cause for employee absence.

If an employee presents a sick note with stress on it the employer should take a proactive approach to the problem. It is your responsibility to manage actively the employee’s absence

First ask for authority to write to the GP who provided the note. Stress is a symptom not an illness what is the diagnosis? What treatment will be required? What is the prognosis? Will the employee ever be able to return to work?

If the GP cannot respond consider instructing an occupational health therapist to help with the response to these issues.

To do this you will need the employee’s permission to access their medical records this should be part of their employment contract if this clause is not there consider negotiating with your employee to incorporate it –better done when the employee is in good health!

Key Steps to Coping with Employee Stress

  1. If performance becomes an issue for one of your employees, discuss it with him or her promptly and explain that they are not performing to acceptable standards.
  2. Should matters fail to improve your only option will be formal disciplinary action. Ensure fair and appropriate procedures are followed which should be set out in either the contract of employment or employee handbook or in their absence use the ACAS code of practice.
  3. The employee should be given the opportunity to offer an explanation and to address the performance issues identified.
  4. Disciplinary proceedings, appraisals or performance interviews may make you aware that health issues are potentially involved. From this point on you are under a duty to take reasonable steps to remove the risk of further deterioration.
  5. Ask the employee what he or she believes could be done to help remove the stress.
  6. Investigate the cause or causes of their stress.
  7. Where the cause is poor supervision then train supervisors and managers if it is caused by inadequate training then provide such training.
  8. Management style bullying or ‘stress carriers’ may be to blame. Speak to those responsible for this and take any remedial steps necessary investigate any allegations against others and take disciplinary action where necessary.

For help in this or other hr issues please contact me at or on 07899697172.

Michael Newman