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Examples of successful wellbeing initiatives adopted by chambers, Specialist Bar Associations and the Inns of Court.

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FDA Union CPS Section

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.

What was the ‘business’ (other case) for action?

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.

What did Chambers do?

Policy Changes

  • The CPS section negotiated a reformed absence management policy which included a softer approach to long-term absence, and a separate process for disability-related absence, with bespoke trigger points for individuals tailored as a reasonable adjustment.
  • Reducing work related stress by tackling the problem head on seeking both a stress policy and a process for carrying out individual Stress Risk Assessments, with a view to putting in measures to reduce or remove the root causes of stress. The Policy and Process have been hailed as a landmark development;

Flexible Working

  • Campaigned for employees to be permitted to work from home. Early adopters of increased smarter and remote working had seen improvements to both their engagement and productivity levels.

Staffing levels

  • Persuaded CPS Senior Management to accept that a further 200 lawyers needed to be recruited. CPS were successful in securing the largest pay-rises in the Civil Service, by having member wellbeing at the core of our pay negotiation strategy.


Mental Health First-Aiders

  • Introduced Mental Health First-Aiders into the CPS and have supported their deployment. Ensuring that those who deal with the more challenging mental health cases have been trained as Mental Health First-Aiders.

Assistance Programme

  • RASSO Welfare Package: Implemented a Welfare Package for lawyers working in RASSO Units. This includes both individual and group confidential counselling sessions and the provision of a helpline by the CPS’ employee support provider – Workplace Wellness.

Addressed Bullying

  • Raised the need for a renewed focus against bullying within the CPS, at a National level with CPS Senior Management. The previous “Dignity at Work” Policy had not been particularly effective. CPS negotiated a more robust policy with a theme of zero tolerance to bullying at its core.
  • This led to the launch of the “Respect” Policy which is aimed at affecting a culture change in the CPS, with robust action to be taken against any proven bullies. All staff had mandatory training on the new policy.

What were the results?

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



  • Listen to those you represent.
  • Use data and empirical evidence to support your case.
  • Find out what has worked elsewhere.


  • Don’t listen to those who say it can’t be done.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be distracted away from a focus on wellbeing.
  • Don’t ever give up striving for better wellbeing.

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.

Get in touch Policy & practice

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.

A simple expression that sums up wellbeing is ‘travelling well’

Psychological wellbeing within the profession is rarely spoken about