Page 1 of 10
Work related stress by industry group
Work related stress by occupational category
Work related stress by age and gender
Work related stress and company size
Causes of workplace stress
Page 2 of 10
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures
and demands placed on them at work.
The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show:
The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a
The number of new cases was 224,000, an incidence rate of 690 per 100,000 workers. The estimated
number and rate have remained broadly flat for more than a decade.
The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2015/16 was 11.7 million days. This
equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case. Working days lost per worker showed a generally
downward trend up to around 2009/10; since then the rate has been broadly flat.
due to ill health.
administration and defence.
teaching professionals; business, media and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress as
compared to all jobs.
The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS)
were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial
Figure 1. Estimated prevalence and incidence rates of stress, depression or anxiety caused or made
Page 3 of 10
Work-related stress is defined as a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands
placed on them at work. By its very nature, stress is difficult to measure and HSE has two different data
sources from which to conduct analysis. The preferred data source used by HSE for calculating rates and
estimates for stress, depression or anxiety is the Labour Force Survey (LFS).
The LFS is a household survey consisting of around 38,000 households per quarter across Great Britain
which provides information about the labour market. HSE commissions a module of questions in the LFS to
gain a view of work-
related illness based on individuals’ perceptions.
The LFS provides national estimates and corresponding rates of the overall prevalence (total cases) of self-
also provides estimates of work-related illness in the same period and of annual working days lost due to
work-related illness. Estimates and rates relate to people working in the previous 12 months. Statistics
presented in this document are based on the LFS data, unless otherwise specified.
In addition to the LFS, HSE also collects data on work-related stress through the Health and Occupation
Research network for general practitioners (THOR-GP) across Great Britain. This network asks reporting
general practitioners to assess whether new cases of mental ill health presented in their surgeries are work-
related, and if so, what was the work-related cause of this disorder. The two data sources may reflect
different perceptions of work related attribution to individual cases.
Longitudinal studies and systematic reviews have indicated that stress at work is driven largely by
psychosocial factors and is associated with common conditions such as heart disease and anxiety and
depression and may play a role in some forms of musculoskeletal disorders.
Page 4 of 10
The prevalence rate for work related stress in all industries was 1230 cases per 100,000 people employed
averaged over the three year 2013/14-2015/16. The broad industry category of public administration and
defence; compulsory social security has a rate of 2030 cases per 100,000 workers; human health and social
work activities at 2020 cases per 100,000 workers and education, 1780 cases per 100,000 workers each
with a significantly higher rate than the average for all industries.
Figure 3. Prevalence rate for work related stress anxiety and depression by industry group, per
100,000 people employed in the last 12 months, averaged over the period 2013/14-2015/16
Page 5 of 10
Those occupational groups with the highest prevalence rates of work related stress broadly reflect the types
of occupations found in the industries mentioned above.
Figure 4. Prevalence rate of work related stress by broad occupational category, per 100,000 people
employed in the last twelve months, averaged over the period 2013/14-2015/16
The professional occupations category has significantly higher rates of work related stress than the rate for
2015/16 had 1980 cases per 100,000 people employed, compared with 1230 cases averaged for all
However the broad categories of skilled trades and elementary occupations had significantly lower rates of
work related stress at 550 and 750 cases per 100,000 respectively.
Looking more closely at the broad category of professional occupations we can assess which professions
are driving the higher rates of work related stress. Nursing and midwifery professionals at 3010 cases per
100,000 workers, Teaching professions at 2530 cases and Welfare professionals at 4990 cases all have
statistically significantly higher rates of work related stress, anxiety and depression than the rate for all
Figure 5. Prevalence rate of work related stress within the category of professional occupations per
100,000 people employed averaged over the period 2013/14-2015/16
Page 6 of 10
In the three year period 2013/14-2015/16 the prevalence rate for work related stress in males was 1190
cases for males and 1820 cases for females per 100,000 workers. Females had a statistically higher rate
than males in this period.
Within males looking at age group breakdowns it is estimated that in age categories 16-24 years (590 cases)
combined in this period. However the age category with higher rates of work related stress was in the 45-54
year age category at 1590 although not statistically significantly higher than all persons combined.
Within female age categories the 25-34 years 35-44 years 45-54 years were all statistically higher than the
reported by females is likely to be a product of the proportion of females in the public services and vocational
occupations such as teaching and nursing and cultural differences in attitudes and beliefs between males
and females around the subject of stress.
Figure 6. Prevalence rate of work related stress by age and gender per 100,000 people employed
averaged over the period 2013/14-2015/16
Page 7 of 10
Compared with all workplaces combined, small enterprises had significantly lower rates of work place stress
anxiety and depression whilst medium and large enterprises had significantly higher rates.
The rate for all workplace size (current/most recent job) 1230 cases per 100,000 workers with
(Less than 50 employees) 990 cases,
Medium (50-249 employees) 1410 cases and Large (250+
employees) 1710 cases.
Figure 7. Prevalence rates of work related stress for small, medium and large enterprises per 100,000
people employed in 2015/16
Page 8 of 10
The predominant cause of work related stress from the Labour Force Survey (2009/10-2011/12) was
workload, in particular tight deadlines, too much work or too much pressure or responsibility.
Other factors identified included a lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence and
role uncertainty (lack of clarity about job/uncertain what meant to do.)
Figure 8. Estimated prevalence rates of self-reported stress, depression or anxiety by attributed
The general practitioners network (THOR-GP 2012-2014) identified an analysis of work related mental ill
predominant factor, in agreement with the LFS, with interpersonal relationships at work and changes at work
significant factors also.
Figure 9. Analysis of mental ill-health cases reported to THOR-GP according to precipitating event
The THOR network of specialist physician’s network offers some case study examples of work related stress
and how these were dealt with.
Page 9 of 10
Case of the Quarter
Earlier this year all of his department were advised that they had to reapply for their posts, and he was
retained but on a temporary contract in a different location. Surgery for keratoconus in 1992 left him sensitive
to bright light and with difficulties driving at night. In his previous post the workstation had been adapted to
meet his visual requirements and the location had meant he had little night driving in wintertime. Requests to
his new line manager for occupational health input in view of his medical condition were declined. Over a
period of a few weeks he developed sleeping difficulties and felt exhausted. He found it difficult to
concentrate at work and was noted to be increasingly irritable at home. When initially seen he had a
tachycardia and raised blood pressure. He was signed off work and on review after two weeks was feeling
much better and his pulse and BP had returned to normal. After a further two weeks he was able to return to
work with occupational health input. A constructive meeting with senior management took place and it was
arranged for him to return to his original location and duties under new line management, with all
adjustments to be undertaken and checked before his return.
Job insecurity, insensitive management and low personal “control” are some of the factors involved in wor
related stress. A change in behaviour can often be the presenting symptom of stress. The abnormal
had always found his work to be enjoyable and is doing so once more.
workforce of Great Britain. Work related stress accounts for 37% of work related ill health and 45% of days
lost, in 2015/16. The occupations and industries reporting the highest rates of work related stress remain
consistently in the health and public sectors of the economy. The reasons cited as causes of work related
stress are also consistent over time with workload, lack of managerial support and organisational change as
the primary causative factors.
First published 11/16
National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of
Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They
are produced free from any political interference.
An account of how the figures are used for statistical purposes can be found at
For information regarding the quality guidelines used for statistics within HSE see
A revisions policy and log can be seen at
Additional data tables can be found at
Statistician: Paul Buckley
Last updated: November 2016