Could an employee, absent due to stress, bring a successful claim against the organisation even if their role is not particularly stressful?
My organisation provides support services for those working with children who have behavioural difficulties. We employ a number of individuals with a social work background and they are often involved directly with the children and their families. This can be difficult work.
One member of the team has recently been signed off sick by their doctor for three weeks. The fit note that we have received states stress as the reason for absence. I have talked to their line manager today to try to understand what might have caused the stress. I am told that their role is not excessively stressful and that the employee only spends about 20% of their time directly with children and their families. Their role is more focused on reviewing action plans and contacting various groups to put the plans in place. However, I have been told that the employee's long-term relationship recently broke down and that their mother has been diagnosed with cancer. Apparently they have been in tears at work on a number of occasions due to this.
Our managing director always seems to panic if anyone is absent due to stress, so is asking me to reassure them that there will be no claim against the organisation. If a claim was made would it be successful?