Failure to recognise work-related psychosocial risks could be catastrophic

Data shows that Europe is deep within a mental health epidemic.

March 10, 2022News

Legislation drafted to protect European workers have been shown to improve the situation within workplaces when enforced properly, with 89% of employers state that complying with the legislation is the main reason why they manage occupational health and safety. Employers have consistently outlined to workers and trade unions that the only way we can guarantee compliance is through binding measures.

Europe’s last framework on occupational health and safety dates back to 1989, although other legislative initiatives have been adopted in the meantime. Our standards for legislating against work-related psychosocial risks are, however, varied, with psychosocial risk factors only noted in the national legislation of 14 Member States (54%), highlighting the gap in protection afforded to workers throughout Europe. Over half of European workers say stress is common in their workplace.

Put simply, we need a standardised approach to tackling work-related psychosocial risks. 60% of all lost working days can be attributed to work-related stress and psychosocial risks, 4 in 5 managers express concern about work-related stress and 61% of female managers have sleep problems. The use of non-binding measures has failed to stem the stress epidemic in Europe.

We need to draft and adopt legislation that fits with the modern working world. If we fail, we leave countless workers behind

Things are moving in the right direction, however, with the European Parliament recently adopting a report that calls for a Commission directive on psychosocial risks. While the Commission have previously been averse to proposing such an initiative, pressure from MEPs is certain to impact the thought process of those in the relevant DGs. A clear message from the Parliament will feed into the campaign, giving platform members important allies at a European and national level.

“There is still a long way to go in the process”, outlines Nayla Glaise, President of Eurocadres. “What we have seen is an increased recognition of the need to guard the mental wellbeing of European workers. One psychosocial risk factor alone, the cost of work-related depression, has been estimated at EUR 620 billion a year, resulting in EUR 240 billion lost economic output. We need to draft and adopt legislation that fits with the modern working world. If we fail, we leave countless workers behind”.

The EndStress platform has adopted the five key pillars of a European directive on work-related psychosocial risks. Read how we want to legislate for your mental health here.

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