ABOGADA DEPARTAMENTO LABORAL
Both the pandemic and the lockdown experienced last year, as well as the new situations and working conditions faced by companies and workers, have led to a new approach in Health and Safety conditions at work.
We are living a new era that brings changes of culture, new habits and ways of working and, of course, occupational risks are moving forward and adapting to these changes.
To such an extent, that last April the “State office of Labour and Social Security” issued a new Technical Criteria about actions on psychosocial risks (CT.104/2021) in which it is stated both, risks that can affect to employees´ mental health as well as the actions to be taken by companies for its control, bearing in mind the obligation that these psychosocial risks must be evaluated.
The lack of a psychosocial risk assessment in companies is quite common and that is why the Labour Inspection Authorities come to define which are these psychosocial risks at work, such as work stress, anxiety, psychological distress, bullying and harassment and what are the factors that may cause them.
The truth is that this criteria helps companies as a guide to what the courts have so far ruled, as the Labour High Court of Justice of Madrid in a judgment dated 5 October 2005 or the Labour High Court of Justice of Castilla y León in a judgement dated 14 May 2014 already established the measures that the employer should take in the event of this stress situation at work.
Nowadays, Labour Inspection Authorities give guidelines to companies which are required to promote the psychological support of their workers and to take care of risk factors in order to get good work environment and relaxed working conditions.
Therefore, Companies must comply with the regulation to carry out a psychosocial risk assessment in all workplaces, as well as avoid situations such those lived during the lockdown where many people felt monotony, isolated and suffered long working hours.
The excessive workload, the long working days, the right to digital disconnection or clients’ relationships are identified as a labour risk factors.
If companies do not take measures and do not comply with these rules, they will be exposed to penalties regarding Health and Safety matters and fines that may reach up to €819,780.00 depending on the importance and gravity, as stated in the Law on Infringements and Social Order Sanctions.
In addition to all above mentioned, it is important to remember that the amounts for these sanctions have been reviewed by the Government aiming to increase them by 20%. Therefore, the penalties in Health and Safety Labour matters will increase approximately €983,736.00. This would mean a considerably higher cost to those Companies that do not adapt to this reality and cultural change, and they do not take new measures to face work stress, anxiety, psychological distress, bullying and harassment at work.
For instance, there are already Companies that are being reported by their employees who have shown that their own company is not being evaluated for psychosocial risks, and fines are around €60,000.00.
With these new criteria, the Labour Authority have begun to review the companies and therefore many fines will be imposed. There will have to be awared and properly advised by professionals who are familiar with the Courts guidelines and the measures to be taken to avoid very costly penalties in this field.