University worker compensated afer hefty workload
A university worker who had a workload of up to 65-hours a week, has received a substantial sum of compensation.
The six-figure sum was awarded to the man after he was forced to give up work due to stress.
The man, who is in his late forties, was from Stoke on Trent and worked as a programme manager at Staffordshire University. It was his responsibility to organise courses for international students.
After a colleague committed suicide and another member of staff who had gone off on long term sick leave were not replaced, the man was given an increasingly heavy workload to deal with.
The university worker was also under pressure from the growing number of overseas students who were enrolling for courses at the institution.
65-hour weeks not uncommon
It wasn't long before his team of four people were doing the work that six workers would complete and it was normal for him to put in 65-hour during some weeks.
The man also had a history of anxiety and depression and despite complaining about the excessive workload, nothing was done to alleviate the pressure.
In the end the man, who had worked for the university for 10 years, was signed off sick in September 2007. He was able to return only for a brief spell before being forced to go off sick again.
He contacted his trade union - the University and College Union (UCU)- which instructed its personal injury lawyers to pursue a claim of compensation for the man.
The legal firm argued that the university should have taken adequate measures to ensure that staff were not overworked. The university denied public liability but settled the claim out of court. The university worker was awarded with £110,000.
Happy for the help
Speaking about the situation he faced and the help he was given, the man said: "The union and legal firm have supported me all the way. They helped me realise that working up to 65-hours per week was totally unacceptable.
"I hope that by reading my story other union members will realise the extent of support that is available through union legal services."
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "Members of staff being forced to pick up colleagues' work is a real worry in higher education at the moment with 15,000 jobs at risk. Universities should be warned that we will be coming down hard on any that follow Staffordshire's example in their treatment of our member.
"We are delighted we were there to help when he needed it and are pleased he has some financial security whilst he looks to see what he can do in the future."
Warinder Juss, from the personal injury lawyer's firm, added: "Despite Staffordshire University being aware of the man"s previous medical history and despite his complaints about the workload nothing was done to ensure he was coping.
"Stress cases are difficult to prove but here our client was ignored and felt he had no choice but to work excessive hours and the damage to his health followed."