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Staffordshire University pays £110,000 compensation to stressed staff member

5 March 2010

A university worker who had to work 65-hours a week has received £110,000 in compensation after he had to give up work due to stress.

Mark Bannister, 49, from Stoke-on-Trent worked as a programme manager at Staffordshire University where he was responsible for organising courses for international students.
After a colleague committed suicide, and other members of staff who left weren't replaced, Mr Bannister was given more and more work to deal with. He was also under pressure from the growing number of overseas students who were enrolling at the university.
Soon his team of four people were doing the work of six and it was normal for him to put in 65-hour weeks. Mr Bannister had a history of anxiety and depression and, despite complaining about the excessive workload, nothing was done to alleviate the pressure.
In the end Mr Bannister, who had worked for the university for 10 years, was signed off sick in September 2007 and is still too ill to return. He contacted UCU, which instructed its lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, to pursue a claim for compensation.
Thompsons argued that the university should have taken adequate measures to ensure staff weren't overworked.
Mr Bannister said: 'The union and Thompsons have supported me all the way. They helped me realise that working 65-hour weeks 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 Mr Bannister. We are delighted we were there to help when he needed it and are pleased he has financial security as he looks to the future.'
Warinder Juss from Thompsons Solicitors added: 'Despite Staffordshire University being aware of Mr Bannister'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 Mr Bannister was ignored and felt he had no choice but to work excessive hours and the damage to his health followed.'

Last updated: 11 December 2015