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Stress related work claim good for proof, court rules

19 January 2010

A former Glasgow University lecturer has been allowed to go to proof on a case that her health suffered through stress at unreasonable working demands being placed on her.

Maureen Flood, a senior lecturer in the Department of Curriculum Studies at Glasgow University from 1999 to 2001, alleged that despite having contractual hours of 32 1/2 hours a week, her duties increased due to staff shortages to the point where she was undertaking the workload normally carried out by 3.5 employees and working over 100 hours a week. Despite complaining to the university and receiving promises of additional help, none was forthcoming in practical terms. Her overwork had caused physical and mental symptoms such that she had not worked since, and she now suffered from depressive disorders and anxiety.

The Lord Ordinary dismissed the action in the ground that Ms Flood had not done enough to identify the steps which the university should have taken in terms of their general duty of care to prevent the harm which she claimed was a consequence of her work overload. However three appeal judges have ruled that the information given in a resignation letter of June 2000, which Ms Flood was persuaded to withdraw on the promise of assistance, provided sufficient background for an allegation that the university should have taken steps to provide relief or assistance in the performance of her duties.

A date will now be set for evidence to be led.

Click here to view the full judgment.

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