FDA and Crown Prosecution Service team up to launch stress-busting toolkit
Union says it took initiative after data showed stress and mental health are biggest reason for CPS absences
Stress and mental health issues are the single biggest reason for absence in the Crown Prosecution Service, it has emerged as the organisation and the FDA union launched a toolkit to tackle the issue.
Helen Wheatley, the union’s health and safety representative at the CPS, began working on the best practice policy after analysing data provided by the agency showing how much stress and mental health issues are fuelling absence rates.
The resulting CPS Managing Work-Related Stress Policy, which is supported by the PCS, was put in place last month.
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The stress-busting toolkit, which has been designed by FDA members, is believed to be the first of its kind implemented in any UK government department or agency.
It seeks to tackle stress by providing tools for staff members and managers to identify the issue, while ensuring that “individuals who experience stress are supported and managed effectively and sensitively.”
The toolkit focuses both on at-risk staff members and the problems particular projects can generate.
Specific tools include a form that individuals can fill in about themselves where they answer a series of yes/no or ranking questions, and another to be filled in by managers about the staff members under them.
The toolkit also includes a stress identification and referral flowchart for managers, together with information on how to spot stress in yourself or others.
FDA national officer Steven Littlewood called for the toolkit to be implemented across government departments and bodies.
He said: “Stress is not just isolated to CPS – it is endemic throughout public service.
“What Helen has created is a blueprint. Her policy can be replicated, and we would like to see more employers use her work to help their staff.
“It looks at stress as an issue that can affect the individual and the collective."
Wheatley researched practice in the NHS trusts to develop a policy relevant for the CPS.
She said: “We do not come to work to be made ill. Seeking to address this issue head on has clear benefits for the organisation as a whole but also for the individual, who’s home life is also affected by issues at work.
“I am very proud to have been the FDA lead on this together with national convenor for the CPS Section David Chrimes, who realised some time ago that the CPS needed such a policy and who has provided support and advice throughout the negotiation process with CPS.”
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