This case study may be useful if you are looking for examples of developing a wellbeing policy, tackling work related stress head on, increasing awareness of wellness, addressing bullying and/or promoting mental health initiatives.
The FDA Union represents the majority of lawyers and senior managers in the CPS, including around 500 Barristers.
4/5 years ago, absence was on average 10 days per year per employee in the CPS – well above the Civil Service average. There was a problem with long term absences caused by work-related stress. Lawyers in CPS RASSO (Rape and Serious Sexual Offences) Units faced particularly challenging and stressful work which can have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.
Similarly, the main measure of engagement – from the Civil Service People Survey – had the CPS in the bottom quartile, with a considerably worse than average score for bullying.
The data was even more negative for disabled employees.
Around the same time, budget cuts led to increased workloads and office closures, causing significantly longer commutes for employees.
As a result, the FDA/CPS section decided to improve engagement and lower absence, focusing on a number of measures based around wellbeing. It was also felt that campaigning strategically on wellbeing would provide an organising and recruitment opportunity for the Union.
Mental Health First-Aiders
The CPS is now in the second quartile for its overall engagement score in the Civil Service People Survey. The increase in engagement for disabled employees has been even greater.
The level of absence in the CPS has fallen substantially to an average of approximately 6 working days lost per year for each employee. Levels of disability-related absence have fallen to a similar extent.
The increased availability of home and remote working has increased CPS productivity and commuting time has been reduced, giving a healthier work-life balance, and reducing carbon footprint.
The new Policy and Process has only been launched relatively recently. However, they signal a culture change in the attitude to work-relevant stress and a joint willingness to tackle it straight-on.
Mental-Health First-Aiders have been well received across the CPS. They have used their training to secure a wide-range of positive and progressive outcomes, particularly in the field of reasonable adjustments, for members.
The RASSO Welfare Package has resulted in absence levels in RASSO Units – despite the challenging nature of the week – being lower than the CPS average, and to higher levels of engagement.
Respect Anti-Bullying Policy is in its early stages, but the signs are positive. It has reinforced the zero-tolerance approach to be adopted towards bullying in the CPS.
The CPS’ commitment to recruit more lawyers, alongside the more attractive financial package secured in the recent pay deal is starting to bear fruit, as the recruitment gap is narrowing.
“It is great to see the Employed Bar applying for a Certificate of Recognition on Wellbeing. We’re particularly impressed with the support put in place for barristers working in RASSO, and the results to date from these interventions are impressive.”
Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group
The information and resource packs on this website are designed to help you and your colleagues to work as a community for better wellbeing and professional resilience. If you want to provide feedback on these resources, or to get involved in promoting wellbeing please get in touch.
It can be difficult to make a living from law and it can be pressurised and demanding. Competition and an adversarial approach to everything can make collegiate relationships difficult. This website aims to provide you with the knowledge to manage these stressors, make emotionally informed, wise professional decisions and thrive in your chosen profession.
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