Gov't to tackle burn-out, stress at work

Healthy working hours, work pressure and aggression in the workplace are among the problems of work stress that minister Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA) of Social Affairs has said he will implement measures against.

In a letter to the House of Representatives, minister Asscher has said that he also wants employees and employers to become more aware of the dangers of stress.

One third of all sick leave requests are a result of work stress. Minister Asscher believes that this issue is still a taboo. "Employees are embarrassed about that. There is nothing wrong with working hard, but the framing conditions to be able to do this do have to be there. For example, that you can still take care of a family member or friend next to your work. And that there is no aggression, bullying or intimidation at your work. I want it to become normal for employers and employees to discuss and deal with work stress with each other."

The minister has launched a campaign to call attention to work stress. In his letter, Asscher points to a national Work Stress Week. His ministry is also going to organize gatherings in which employers and employees share ideas about dealing with stress. Asscher encourages the making of deals in collective labour agreements about tackling stress. The minister has also emphasized a need to make the combination of work and care easier.

According to het Parool, research indicates that 12 percent of employees suffer burn-outs. Almost 40 percent find their job mentally taxing, and a quarter say they are always work under heavy time constraints. In the Netherlands, a further 40 percent of employees feel the need for extra measures to prevent work stress.

Vice President of the union FNV, Ruud Kuin applauds minister Asscher for his efforts, but is not satisfied. "We are missing some very important solutions, which are not visible in this campaign. There are usually too few employees for too much work. Look, for example, at workers in care, cleaning and education. They are squared up to the second."