by Tim Lezard Cuts to jobs and increasing workloads are leading to more stress and ill health in the civil service, according to new surveys for the PCS. Two surveys carried out for the union by employment analysts and academics reveal high levels of s …

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, PCS, UK unions,

PCS logoRGBby Tim Lezard

Cuts to jobs and increasing workloads are leading to more stress and ill health in the civil service, according to new surveys for the PCS.

Two surveys carried out for the union by employment analysts and academics reveal high levels of stress, longer working hours, and fewer opportunities to achieve a work-life balance.

The results come after the latest official statistics showed 87,000 civil servants had lost their jobs since 2010 as ministers boast of shrinking the civil service to the smallest since the second world war.

They are published this week during ‘European week for safety and health at work’, and all union safety representatives are being urged to carry out health and safety inspections of their workplaces.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “While ministers cheer the fact they’re cutting the civil service to the bone, their unnecessary cuts are clearly having a detrimental effect on people’s health and their ability to do their work.

“The government has no claim to be a model employer when it is causing such high levels of stress, ill health and overwork.”

The findings show conditions for civil servants have worsened since the union’s first stress survey was carried out in 2006.

They include:

Stress:

– Higher than average stress levels and, on several measures, considerably higher

– In six out of seven categories of Health and Safety Executive-defined ‘stressors’, the two departments involved were worse than average; in four they were within the bottom fifth of organisations which by HSE standards means urgent action is needed

– ‘Change’ was identified as being the most contributory factor for stress

– One in six respondents reported they were “always, often or sometimes bullied”

Work-life balance:

– More than half (52%) reported working beyond contracted hours, doing on average 38 to 48 hours a week; almost 6% said they worked on average more than 48 hours a week; one third said their hours had increased from 2012 and only 5.3% said they had fallen

– Almost three-quarters stated their workload had increased. The main reasons given were reduced staffing levels (74%), new working practices (58%) and increased personal targets (42%)

– More than one fifth (23%) experienced work-related stress up to 50% of the time and 11% said they were stressed more than 75% of the time

– Almost two thirds (65%) stated they had suffered from ill health as a result of stress at work. Of these, almost one fifth (19%) had taken more than 40 days off as a result of stress-related ill health

– Sixty per cent did not believe their employer had helped them to cope with the causes of stress

– Participants felt that increasing working hours (92%), cutting annual leave (94%), reducing sick leave and pay entitlements (89%), and changing flexi-time arrangements (88%) would have a detrimental effect on their jobs

– Almost three-quarters (73%) said such changes would act as a deterrent to seeking promotion; and a similar number agreed changes would have a negative impact on their ability to deliver quality public services.

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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