Scotland

Scottish teacher's six-figure stress award

Scotland's largest teaching union has warned stress problems must be taken more seriously, after £650,000 was paid out to members in the past year.

The EIS said the figure, awarded for work-related injuries, included a record six-figure settlement.

The union's Ronnie Smith said occupational stress was now a "major problem" for teachers and lecturers.

Scottish ministers said they expected councils to take appropriate action to minimise the risk of stress.

Mr Smith, the EIS general secretary, said: "The growth in the number of cases involving psychiatric injury and stress-related illness must be a warning to employers that they need to take account of their employees' mental, as well as physical, wellbeing.

"The fact that this record compensation award arose from a workload-related case, which was compounded by a lack of management support, is no coincidence."

The six-figure, out-of-court settlement came, the union said, after one employer refused to respond to a teacher's concerns of an excessive workload, resulting in a "stress-related, psychiatric injury".

Several EIS members won compensation claims during 2010-11 after being assaulted by pupils.

One got £1,000 after being kicked and punched on the side of the head while taking a class playing football, and another, who was attacked with a metre stick, won £1,500.

The union said the main cause of injuries to teachers and lecturers was accidents involving falls at work.

Other cases included a payment of £49,500 to an EIS member who was exposed to asbestos, causing the cancer mesothelioma.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Work-related stress can take many forms and affect individuals in different ways.

"The Scottish government expects councils to take appropriate action at a local level to minimise the risk of stress or injury and any related claims through their own local health and safety procedures for staff and pupils."

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