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July 6, 2009

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Restructuring is bad for health, warns union

Workers who take part in organisational restructuring, regardless of

whether they lose or hold on to their jobs, are 2.5 per cent more

likely to become ill than other workers, according to public sector

union Unison.

The union is urging employers to carry out risk assessments when restructuring, in the wake of a new report supported by the EU Commission, which shows that reorganisation can seriously harm workers’ health.

According to the report, Health in Restructuring, an increase in absence, injuries, accidents, depression and stress-related illnesses caused by restructuring also affects an organisation’s efficiency.

Greg Thomson, Unison’s national development manager, said: “Restructuring is common during a recession and workers need to be treated as fairly as possible. Restructuring can also have an impact on the family and friends of those affected, as it may involve relocation as the only option to retaining a post. This can be expensive, lonely, and disruptive for the family as a whole.”

The union is calling on employers to follow its five-point action plan to prevent ill health. The plan says:

  1. Employers must be open about any proposed restructuring and consult properly;
  2. Workers should have access to counselling;
  3. All workers should be treated fairly; the process should be transparent; and workers who lose their jobs should be properly compensated;
  4. Restructuring should take into account all the possible negative side-effects;
  5. Lifelong learning should be made available to help workers find other jobs more easily.

For more information on the report, click here.

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