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Stress can be classed as disability, even without formal diagnosis

Formal diagnosis not needed for stress to be a disability
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In the case of Phillips v Aneurin Bevan University Local Health Board, the Employment Tribunal had to consider whether stress could be a disability even where there has not been a formal diagnosis 

The claimant brought claims for disability discrimination, discrimination arising from a disability and a failure to make reasonable adjustments against their employer. In the claim, the claimant stated they were disabled due to, amongst other things, stress at work.

The claimant had been signed off work as sick on several occasions due to stress at work. As a result of stress, they were more easily upset and at times unable to leave the house or socialise as they would normally.

A preliminary hearing was arranged to determine whether the two disabilities cited by the claimant fit the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010.

The first question the Employment Tribunal (ET) had to consider was whether the claimant suffered from work-related stress. Medical evidence clearly showed that they did.

The ET concluded that the stress (the “impairment”) felt by the claimant did have a significant impact on their ability to perform day-to-day activities, and as such fulfilled the test of “substantial adverse effects”. As the issues had already been going on for some time, they were also long-term.

The ET therefore held that it is not necessary for a formal diagnosis of a mental illness to be given for an impairment to be a disability.

The case was permitted to continue to a full ET hearing, to determine if discrimination had occurred in relation to the stress at work.

For more information on discrimination laws, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like What's the legal definition of a disability?

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