Stress brought on by heavy work loads is the fastest growing source of employment claims against businesses in the West Midlands, according to a survey by Black Country law firm George Green.
Tim Lang, partner and head of employment at the firm, warns more people in all types of jobs are taking action against their companies than ever before for stress and depression.
"With the ever increasing demands of the workplace for employees to boost productivity and to hit targets, we are seeing more blue collar and manual workers seeking compensation for stress related illnesses and injuries, where once this was the preserve of white collar staff," he cautioned.
Noting that nevertheless most claims for stress still emanate from office work-ers, Mr Lang, who is based in George Green's Cradley Heath offices, went on: "With no limit to the damages which can be paid out for successful claims, employers need to ensure that they have the proper procedures in place to safeguard themselves."
A recent Court of Appeal ruling has made dealing with stress claims even more onerous for employers.
Mr Lang said: "The Court found in favour of a pub manager who claimed damages for psychiatric injury caused by stress at work.
"Although the manager was claiming to work in excess of 90 hours per week he never complained of stress, nor did he seek a medical opinion about his condition, until he collapsed.
"Before this ruling, an employee would have had to have complained about stress at work, which the employer then failed or refused to deal with, in order to win a claim."
According to Mr Lang, if an employee takes time off with a stress related illness, complains a heavy work load is making them sick, or seems not to be coping, employers should take action.