Case: Walker v. Northumberland County Council (1995)
A social worker in charge of a team of field workers had reported his stress, arising out of a greatly increased workload. On his return to work he was given to understand that he would have an assistant to ease his workload, but it turned out that this assistant was only intermittently available. He suffered a second breakdown and had to retire.
This case established the precedent that an employer can be held liable for mental injury to an employee caused by work-related stress. This judgement underlined the employer’s duty of care to provide safe systems of work in respect of occupational stress as well as other hazards, and to take steps to protect employees from foreseeable risks to mental health.