Czech Republic: EWCO comparative analytical report on Work-related Stress

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 22 November 2010



About
Country:
Czechia
Author:
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

Stress and growing pace of work are phenomena to which workers are exposed to a higher and higher degree. According to a survey, one fifth of workers work most of time under medium or large stress. In the Czech Republic the topic of stress does not belong among issues which are paid much attention to by the national politics nor by the scientific community. No regular monitoring of stress is carried out. Nevertheless, the problem of stress is widely discussed in public and companies start to introduce policies promoting health at work and reducing stress.

Q1 Monitoring work-related stress at the national level

1. Are there any instruments in place to monitor work-related stress at the national level, for example, national surveys, sectoral studies, epidemiological studies, action research, or other research programmes? Please describe the main sources of information available on work-related stress in your country (coverage, methodology, definitions used, etc.).

In the Czech Republic neither regular monitoring of incidence of this phenomenon nor a research of sociological nature focusing purely on work-related stress was carried out. The existing findings on work-related stress occurrence are therefore very fragmentary.

The following table includes a summary of surveys and projects which at least partially touched on the topic of stress. Save for one exception, these surveys often focused primarily on another research problem and included a question concerning work-related stress or questions about possible stressors or stress outcomes. Generally, there is a lack of questions in the surveys to test causality “stressor – stress – health outcome “. The term “stress“ itself was often not defined.

Table 1: List of surveys containing information about work-related stress

Survey / Project, year

Institution

Financing

Methodology

Focus

Definition of Stress

Note

Workplace stress – prevention opportunities’

2008-2009

Department of Human Resource Development of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic; Trade Union of Public Authorities and Organisations; Occupational Safety Research Institute

Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic

Survey between public administration employees, N=5,150; representative survey on stress; surveyed population: employees 18-65 years; N=836; semistructured interviews with labour inspectors

Stress

Not known

Not available, final report should be published in the first half of 2010

European Health Interview Survey

2008

Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic

Eurostat, Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic

Representative survey in CZ; surveyed population – persons 15+; N=1,955

Health state of the population

None

One question on work-related stress; information on health outcomes

Results not available yet

Incapacity for Work due to Disease or Injury, ad hoc module of Labour Force Survey

2007

Czech Statistical Office

State

Representative survey; surveyed population: economically active persons 15+

Health outcomes of work

None

Information about possible stressors; a question on health outcomes of stress

Labour Force Survey

Quarterly

Czech Statistical Office

State

Representative survey; surveyed population: economically active persons 15+

Working conditions, possible stressors (e.g. working time)

None

Information about working time

The price of health

2007

Public Opinion Research Centre; Occupational Safety Research Institute

Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic

Representative survey; surveyed population: economically active persons 17+; based on quota sampling; N=1,040

Working conditions, health outcomes of work, willingness to accept a risk at work

None

Information about possible stressors; question on occurrence of work-related stress

Quality of Working Life Survey

2006

Public Opinion Research Centre; Occupational Safety Research Institute

Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic

Representative survey; surveyed population: employed persons 15+; based on quota sampling; N=2,043

Importance and satisfaction with different aspects of working conditions

None

Information about possible stressors ; evaluation of importance and satisfaction with different aspects of working life

The context of changes in the labour market and forms of private, family and partner life in Czech society

2005

Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic

Representative survey; surveyed population: employed persons aged 25-54 years; based on quota sampling; N=5,510

Work-life balance, working conditions

Factors of “stressing work” – earning is dependent on performance; job is source of stress also outside of work; strained atmosphere and unfriendly relationships on workplace

Information about possible stressors

Measuring the quality of working life

2004

RILSA

Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic

Representative survey; surveyed population: employees aged 15-69 years, in their current job at lest 3 months; based on quota sampling; N=2,007

Working conditions, work organization, work environment

None

Information about possible stressors

Working Conditions

2000

RILSA

RILSA

Representative survey; same questionnaire and methodology as in EWCS 2000; surveyed population: employed persons 15+; N=1,029

Working conditions

Stress = state, when a person is in a troublesome situation which is difficult to cope with, a person is frustrated, in a shock and faces difficulties

Information about possible stressors

Other international surveys: International Social Survey Programme „Work orientations II“ (1997), EWCS 2001, 2005

Various institutions

 

Representative surveys

Work, working conditions

None

Information about possible stressors

ISSP: “Do you consider your work stressful?”

Source: Author

2. Provide, if available, data on the overall level of work-related stress based on the identified sources. If possible, identify the main trends in this matter presenting data (e.g. for the last five years).

Since there is no continuous stress monitoring present in the Czech Republic, results mentioned below are only from selected surveys which covered this issue. Due to different methodologies and scopes of the surveys a trend cannot be assessed reliably.

According to results of the “International Social Survey Programme” 1997, work is considered permanently or often stressful by 20.9% workers, 38.8% persons experience stress occasionally, 40.1% respondents experience stress rarely or never.

Table 2: Stress at work, in % (1997)
 

Permanently

Often

Occasionally

Rarely

Never

I don’t know

Do you consider your work stressful?

7.2

13.7

38.8

26.8

13.3

0.2

Source: ISSP 1997 – Work orientations II., quoted according to Čadová, Paleček 2006: 124

In the research The Price of Health from 2007 respondents were also asked to assess stress at work using a scale. 46.2% workers never work under stress or only exceptionally, 33.2% is sometimes burdened with a moderate stress and 20.1% workers work most of time under medium or enormous stress. Differences between women and men are not very high, nevertheless, men suffer from enormous stress slightly more frequently than women, and women describe their stress as moderate more often than men. More than half of the youngest generation (15-29 years old) state that they do not work under stress or characterise stress as being low. The middle-aged generation (30-49 years old) shows the highest value of the medium-sized stress, the highest percentage of people over 50 let suffer an enormous work-related stress. The work-related stress level also rises with education, the higher the education is the more stress at work a person has.

Table 3: Level of exposure to work-related stress by gender, age and education, in % (2007)

 

 

 No stress or stress exceptionally

Medium stress, sometimes

Enormous stress more frequently

Total  

46.2

33.2

20.1

Men  

46.7

31.5

21.3

Women  

45.6

35.4

18.6

Age        
15-29  

51.9

30.3

17.3

30-49  

43.4

35.5

20.4

50+  

47.5

30.2

22.4

Education ISCED      
Basic, no education 0, 1, 2

66.7

18.5

13.0

Secondary without GCSE* part 3

55.6

30.5

13.4

Secondary with GCSE* part 3, 4

41.6

37.1

21.0

University 5, 6

25.0

36.3

38.1

Source: The price of health, 2007

Note: Answer “do not know” makes the rest to 100%.

* GSCE = General Certificate of Secondary Education

Q2 Risk factors for work-related stress

Based on the main or most used monitoring instruments available (identified in Q1), please provide information on the following risk factors for stress.

All the data in this chapter have been selected from surveys in Part 1. However, since no one focused on stress exploration primarily, these data need to be understood just as information about possible, not existent stressors.

Note: If available, please provide information on the main changes or trends in text. Any tables with figures illustrating those trends should be included in annex (if possible, breakdown the data by gender and/or other relevant variables).

Quantitative demands: workload, working hours, quantity and intensity of work.

Since 2004, the average number of hours worked per week by employees in the Czech Republic has stagnated around 42.8 hours among full time workers. A gradual long-term fall in the number of hours worked can only be observed among part-time workers. Compared to the EU average, however, Czechs work more hours per week. (Eurostat 2010)

From results of EWCS 2001 and 2005 it is evident that work intensity has been growing. More and more people work with high speed or under the pressure of deadlines, in the Czech Republic this indicator exceeds the EU average.

Table 4: Working with high speed and under tight deadlines, in % (2001, 2005)
 

2001

2005

 

CZ

EU 15

CC12

CZ

EU15

NMS

Working with high speed

47

56

61

60

61

52

Working to tight deadlines

68

60

57

71

62

59

Source: EWCS 2001, 2005

Note: ¼ of time and more

Data on work intensity can be found also in the ad hoc module LFS “Incapacity for Work due to Disease or Injury“ from 2007. 12.8% of employed people stated that they were exposed to time pressure or excessive work load. This load concerned more men (14.0%) than women (11.3%). Exposed to time pressure or excessive work load were in particular legislators, managers and professionals, where these problems were mentioned by more than one fourth of workers. (CZSO 2008) Compared with results of the other surveys, these values are, however, very low.

The research “The price of health” asked respondents about their feeling overworked. 25.0% of employed people always or often experience an excessive workload, 47.9% then occasionally.

Table 5: Feeling overworked, in % (2007)

Q: “Do you feel overworked?”

 

Total

Men

Women

Always

4.2

3.9

4.6

Often

20.8

19.9

21.9

Occasionally

47.9

47.3

48.7

Rarely

21.1

22.8

18.8

Never

5.9

5.8

6.0

Source: The price of health, 2007

Note: Answer “do not know” makes the rest to 100%.

In surveys we can also find a mention of feeling exhausted from work. The research “The context of changes in the labour market and forms of private, family and partner life in Czech society” shows that 55.2% of employed people feel very or rather exhausted from work. The feeling of exhaustion is more intensive by men (57.8%) than by women (52.3%). (Víznerová, Vohlídalová 2006).

Qualitative demands: these refer to emotional and cognitive demands at work and may include work-life balance issues, complexity of work, dealing with angry clients and suffering patients, feeling afraid, having to hide emotions, etc.

Based on the analysis from the survey “Quality of Working Life Survey” from 2006 it is evident that 51.6% of Czechs are satisfied with amount of time available for their family, hobbies and relaxation, 18.4% expressed their dissatisfaction. In general, it can be said that work-life balance does not belong among working conditions which are referred to in the surveys as being the most dissatisfying. Nevertheless, as a paradox, this is a topic which is not being overly developed in the Czech Republic.

51.6% of employed people are burdened at least sometimes with work-related problems also after working hours. Work, however, causes problems in private life, at least sometimes, to a smaller percentage of people (26.7%). Although most people mention that after weekend they often do not look forward to going to work, in general, most of the employed people enjoy their work.

Table 6: Impact of work on private life, satisfaction with work, in % (2007)
 

Always

Often

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

Work problems task your mind also after the end of working hours.

3.8

16.5

31.3

31.4

16.6

Your work causes problems in your personal life.

1.1

6.4

19.2

39.0

33.9

You enjoy your work.

26.0

41.3

22.3

8.0

1.8

After weekend you look forward to going to work.

3.8

18.8

34.4

25.5

15.4

Source: The price of health, 2007

Note: Answer “do not know” makes the rest to 100%.

The majority of Czechs perceive no conflict between their work and family life. Overall, 66% of Czech workers seem to manage their professional and family duties without difficulty. About 90% of workers think that work has no influence on their family relationships or that the impact is positive.

Table 7: Managing work and family obligations, in % (2005)

Q1: “How do you manage your work and family obligations?”

 

Men

Women

Total

Manages both without any problems

65.1

66.0

65.6

Manages work well at the expense of the family

17.4

8.7

13.0

Manages the family well at the expense of work

2.0

4.3

3.2

Manages both on a fifty-fifty basis

13.5

18.3

15.9

Can not manage work or the family

2.0

2.7

2.4

Source: The context of changes in the labour market and forms of private, family and partner life in Czech society, 2005

Table 8: Influence of work on family life, in % (2005)

Q2: “How does your employment affect the life of your family (what impact does your job have on the family’s equilibrium, contentment and relations between family members)?”

 

Men

Women

Total

It is possible to adapt one’s work very well to family life and it has a positive influence on the family life of the respondent.

23.6

27.5

25.6

Work has no influence on relations in the family. The respondent always strives to keep work and the family separate.

64.0

62.7

63.4

Work really complicates life in the family and in this respect it causes problems for respondents and their families.

12.4

9.8

11.0

Source: The context of changes in the labour market and forms of private, family and partner life in Czech society, 2005

Relations at work which may include social support from colleagues or supervisor, management style and relationships with colleagues/managers/the organisation; violence and harassment at work.

Most Czechs are satisfied with relationships with colleagues as well as with incidence of bullying. A more serious stressor consists in relationships with superiors, when tension expressed by respondents was higher in more surveys (e.g. Measuring the quality of working life 2004, EWCS 2005, and Quality of Working Life Survey 2006 – Tab. 9). Communication at workplace was characterised as at least sometimes stressful by 32.7% of employed persons. (Tab. 10)

Table 9: Satisfaction with colleagues and superiors (2006)
 

Highly satisfied

Rather satisfied

Neither satisfied, nor dissatisfied

Rather dissatisfied

Highly dissatisfied

Not applicable / s/he does not know

I am satisfied with superiors’ behaviour.

12.0

37.6

25.2

12.4

3.6

9.2

I am satisfied with relationships with colleagues.

26.8

46.5

17.0

3.9

0.8

5.0

I am satisfied with incidence rate of bullying.

24.4

31.9

15.9

2.7

0.6

24.6

Source: Quality of Working Life Survey, 2006

Table 10: Communication at workplace (2007)
 

Always

Often

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

S/he does not know

Your colleagues are stressed out, tired, exhausted.

2.3

16.5

45.6

20.2

5.7

9.7

Communication at workplace is stressful.

1.8

5.3

25.6

44.8

20.9

1.6

Source: The price of health, 2007

Note: Answer “do not know” makes the rest to 100%.

Autonomy, decision latitude and room for manoeuvre: control over work, including control over pace of work and over job content and decision-making power; predictability of work, use and possibility to develop skills.

Based on the survey “Measuring the quality of working life” from 2004 we can analyse a level of particular aspects of autonomy: the highest percentage of workers can change their speed or rate of work (50.5%), less of them then methods of work (46.8%) and orders of tasks (47.6%). The same aspects were measured in EWCS 2005, according to results of the survey, Czech workers enjoyed a below-average autonomy level.

Table 11: Autonomy at work, by gender in % (2004)

Possible to choose or change:

Order of tasks

Methods of work

Speed or rate of work

 

Total

Men

Women

Total

Men

Women

Total

Men

Women

Strongly or fairly agree

47.6

45.8

49.7

46.8

47.7

45.8

50.5

49.4

51.7

Neutral

13.9

13.7

14.1

17.3

17.6

17.0

21.5

22.4

20.4

Strongly or fairly disagree

38.5

40.5

36.2

35.9

34.7

37.3

28.0

28.2

27.9

Source: Measuring the quality of working life, 2004

Analysis of the “Working Conditions” survey from the year 2000 looked at the influence of the nature of work on workers’ health. The primary subject of investigation was the link between the incidence of both mental and physical difficulties and work autonomy (the possibility of selecting work methods, the sequence of tasks, the pace of work and the distribution of working time), senior position, work to tight deadlines and at high speed, and monotony and routine at work. The subjectively perceived mental and physical problems were most commonly linked to those workers whose work takes place at high speed and to tight deadlines, according to this survey. An increased incidence of solely mental problems was registered among management workers. By contrast, a low incidence of health problems, be they physical or mental, was registered among jobs characterised by a high degree of autonomy. (Soukup 2008)

Nevertheless, based on the research “Quality of Working Life Survey” from 2006 74.5% of workers are satisfied with the autonomy level at work. As for opportunities for further learning and personal growth a prospects for and possibility of career advancement, the satisfaction level with regard to these factors is lower. At the same time, however, these factors belong rather among less important for Czech workers, which may weaken their role as potential stressors.

Table 12: Importance of and satisfaction with work autonomy, opportunities for grow and career advancement, in % (2006)

Aspect of work and working conditions

Importance

Satisfaction

% of ‘definitely important’ and ‘important’ answers

% of ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfies’ answers

% of ‘very dissatisfied’ and ‘dissatisfies’ answers

Work autonomy

69.6

74.5

4.5

Opportunities for further learning and personal growth

53.7

46.1

14.5

Prospects for and possibility of career advancement

50.4

31.7

23.0

Source: Quality of Working Life Survey, 2006

Individual and collective mechanisms for employees’ involvement, particularly in relation to organisational change and change management, including communication of change.

‘Top-down’ lines of communication dominate in the Czech Republic, i.e. management is based on issuing orders. This was documented by data from the research “Measuring the quality of working life” from 2004. Fewer than 60% of respondents reported that their superiors keep open lines of communication with their staff. In practical terms, however, openness was assessed as relatively poor. 38.5% reported that opposing opinions are welcomed and discussed. This conclusion is also supported by the low number of employees (37.1%) who agreed that managers understand problems employees confront on the job. (Vašková, Kroupa 2004) (CZ0502SR01) This indicates that a lack of individual involvement is a potential stressor.

Table 13: Employees’ involvement and relationships with managers, in % (2004)
 

Strongly or fairly agree

Neutral

Strongly or fairly disagree

My supervisor supports open communication with staff.

59.2

8.7

12.0

Differences of opinion are welcome and openly discussed in our department.

38.5

35.3

20.1

There is sufficient contact between managers and employees in our company.

38.4

28.0

23.0

Managers in our company understand the problems that employees face on the job.

37.1

29.1

24.6

Source: Measuring the quality of working life, 2004

As far as collective mechanisms are concerned, they occur at workplaces in the Czech Republic in a limited extent only and obviously most workers do not mind their absence. According to “Quality of Working Life Survey”, possibility to unionize is important for 18.2% of workers only, at the same time, only a minimum of workers (12.7%) are dissatisfied with unionization possibilities. Therefore, in the Czech context this area does not very likely belong to potential stressors.

The perception of the role that the employee holds in the organisation and whether the employee is clear about what is expected of them in terms of their job; clarity of the management changes, i.e., how organisations manage and communicate change; motivation; over commitment and reward.

See answers question 5 and 7.

Conflicts of value and organisational justice.

The issue of justice is often mentioned in the context of fair rewarding. The level of pay and fair rewarding belongs among the most important aspects of Czechs’ working life. At the same time, these are also factors which are associated with the highest dissatisfaction and are frustrating for workers. This was also documented by data from the research “Quality of Working Life Survey” 2006.

Table 14: Importance of and satisfaction with pay and fair rewarding, in % (2006)

Aspect of work and working conditions

Importance

Satisfaction

% of ‘definitely important’ and ‘important’ answers

% of ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfies’ answers

% of ‘very dissatisfied’ and ‘dissatisfies’ answers

Pay or wage level

95.4

39.6

31.1

Fair reward of work results

92.5

40.3

27.7

Source: Quality of Working Life Survey, 2006

Precariousness of work (i.e. nature of the employment contract).

For Czechs job security is the third most important aspect of working life immediately after the pay level and fair rewarding. In comparison with the two above-mentioned aspects, however, in Czechs express higher satisfaction (57.0%). Fear of losing job was reflected also in results of EWCS 2005: 32.2% of Czechs believed that in the following 6 months they may lose their job, in EU27 it was 13.7% only. According to the research “The price of health” 57.3% of workers at least sometimes worry about losing their job, this fear is greater with women (Tab 15).

Table 15: Fear of losing job (2007)
 

Total

Men

Women

Always

6.3

6.1

6.6

Often

15.9

13.1

19.5

Sometimes

35.1

35.4

34.7

Rarely

24.5

26.0

22.6

Never

14.2

15.6

12.4

Source: The price of health, 2007

Note: Answer “do not know” makes the rest to 100%.

The outright majority of Czechs has a job for an indefinite period of time. Percentage of employees with a contract for a definite period of time is ranging around 7.2% in the long run and neither during the crisis does this percentage grow significantly. (LFS CZSO 2004-2009) The current economic crisis and a consequent greater risk of losing a job is undoubtedly a big stressor for Czech workers.

If there are no surveys or large scale research programmes available, please provide information on how stress is measured/assessed in other sources: qualitative research data on stress risk assessment at company level or sectoral level, studies with a focus on specific occupations, etc.

No data.

Q3 Work-related stress outcomes

Please provide information (including references to the sources or studies) on stress-related outcomes:

As it has been mentioned above, data on particular impacts of work on individuals or an organization exist, however, they were not gathered in relation to the work-related stress monitoring. Save for exceptions, the causalities below cannot be supported with evidence.

Individual outcomes (e.g. mental health illnesses, including depression and anxiety, and physical illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), disabilities, fatigue and sleeping problems);

In 2000 in the research “Working Conditions” 7.3% respondents admitted that work-related stress has a negative impact on their health (Hnilica, Vašková, Kroupa 2002). According to EWCS 2001, this value was 25%. Then in EWCS 2005 this percentage dropped to 17.4% (Eurofound). However, data do not allow us to answer the question what are specific health outcomes.

The social construction of stress by group of workers: can you provide references and main findings of research discussing this issue; factors acknowledged as stressful by some group of workers; groups which refer to stress or not to describe unsatisfactory situations

No data.

Organisational outcomes (effects that individual stress outcomes have on organisations, e.g. absence from work, job satisfaction, morale, level of commitment, productivity, and the impact of these outcomes on organisations’ costs, performance, or innovation capacity);

According to results of module LFS “Incapacity for Work due to Disease or Injury”, that in total 7.9% employed people were absent from work at least once in 2007 due to health complications caused by work. Of that number, stress, depression and anxiety caused absence only in 2.1% cases (in total, this problem was mentioned by 0.2% people only). More frequently women (2.6%) were absent from work due to this cause than men (1.1%) (CZSO 2008). Naturally, these data cannot be interpreted in the sense that stress does not contribute to the illness rate in the Czech Republic. Rather, it is not a primary reason of absence which may rather result from another health consequence of stressful conditions.

Labour Market or Societal level outcomes (the ‘costs’ to society of stress). This could include issues such as higher levels of unemployment and of recipients of incapacity benefits, costs to health and welfare systems, loss of productivity.

No data.

Q4 Interventions on work-related stress management

What relevant information is available about interventions on work-related stress management and their effectiveness?

Are any interventions in place to prevent or manage work-related stress? If so, what kind of interventions are they? Please describe them making reference to coverage, effectiveness, since when they are in place, etc.

Which organisations are promoting these interventions? E.g. at national level (health and safety authority, labour inspectorate, social partners, government), at sectoral or at company level?

At the national level the topic of stress is part of agenda of several institutions. However, generally speaking, it belongs among topics which are paid relatively little attention. Yet supporting mental health at work (especially stress and bullying prevention) is one of priorities of the National Action Programme of Occupational Safety and Protection, which constitutes a cornerstone of the National H&S Policy (Národní politika bezpečnosti a ochrany zdraví při práci České republiky). The policy is run by the Government Council for H&S, which is a platform for meetings of ministerial representatives, social partners and experts, being a permanent advisory body to the Czech government. Coordination is secured by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Ministerstvo práce a sociálních věcí, MoLSA).

Legislative tools keeping down work-related stress can be found in the Czech Republic only marginally, (if we do not take into account legislative changes based on the implementation of European directives reducing stressors, such as limits to overtime work, introduction of flexible working arrangements, higher protection of workers with fixed-term contract or discrimination-related regulations.)

The legal regulation of working conditions and occupational health and safety does not include a definition of the term “stress“. Pursuant to Act no. 262/2006 Coll., Labour Code, an employer is obliged to create an environment which is safe and harmless to health. In addition to that, the employer must look for and evaluate risks and adopt measures for their elimination. Government Decree 361/2007, which lays down conditions of occupational health protection, defines the term “psychological strain” as work of monotonous nature, in an enforced work speed (worker can not choose rate of the work and must subordinate to the rhythm of a machine or task or rhythm of another worker), in a three-shift or non-stop regime and performed at night time only. If one of these conditions is met, the employer must evaluate a risk within the meaning of the Labour Code. The only “anti-stress” measure within the Labour Code is to provide employees at risky workplaces with one extra week of holiday. The Act no. 258/2000 Coll., on public health protection binds employers to categorize work by risks involved. Nevertheless, stress does not rank among binding categories within the risk analysis methodology.

For the Labour Code, Labour Inspectorates (Státní úřad inspekce práce, SUIP) work as an inspection authority. Regional Hygiene Stations are authorized to inspect occupational health protection based on the Act on public health. The level of stress-related risk analyses differ depending on employers’ approach. While some companies pay attention to this issue, others focus purely on risks of a physical nature. Presence of those in particular can be assessed by inspection authorities relatively more easily. In case of stress, however, inspection authorities lack capacities as well as instructions how to check this issue, nor competence to affect it. Their influence is thus very little and in reality no inspections are carried out in this respect.

As far as non-legislative tools are concerned, some educational and edifying activities can be mentioned. Edification is in focus of the MoLSA together with the Occupational Safety Research Institute (Výzkumný ústav bezpečnosti práce ), which published manuals for companies how to cope with work-related stress (e.g. “Work-related stress and health (Pracovní stres a zdraví)“ 2005; “Stress prevention at work (Prevence stresu na pracovišti)“ 2008).

The National Institute of Public Health (Státní zdravotní ústav, SZÚ) (established by the Ministry of Health (Ministerstvo zdravotnictví, MZ ČR)), in the follow-up to the initiative promoting healthy lifestyle of people at work “Move in Europe“ , is nowadays participating in another international project “Work in tune with life“ („Práce v souladu se životem“) focusing on the mental health support at work. Within this project a competition “Mental health and well-being at work” has been announced for companies at the end of 2009. The aim of the competition is, among others, to reduce stress at work, or to find examples of good practise.

Also social partners pay attention to this topic. The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (Českomoravská konfederace odborových svazů, ČMKOS) together with M&J Consulting participated in 2004-2006 in the international project “Stress Prevention Activities“, as part of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme funded by the European Commission. Educational materials, manuals for lecturers and pilot seminars have been produced within this project.

In the report of the ČMKOS and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic (Svaz průmyslu a dopravy ČR, SP ČR) on the implementation of the European Framework Agreement on Work Related Stress social partners voiced their dissatisfaction. Since collective agreements cover less than one third of workers only, this agreement was implemented into the Labour Code. However, as it has been mentioned above, this legislative regulation is highly general and does not cover this working condition sufficiently (ČMKOS, SP ČR 2008).

Further, the ČMKOS recommends to trade unions to incorporate the stress issue in the collective bargaining. In 2007 an information brochure was published regarding autonomous agreements of European social partners, including, among others, the topic of stress. In 2008 the issue to cover stress in the collective agreements was included in the annual survey of MoLSA “Information system on working conditions“ (Informační systém o pracovních podmínkách). Based on the survey, provisions relating to stress occur there in a minimum extent (in 2008 and 2009 this provision was included in 0.1% company-level collective agreements).

Activity which companies pursue in the fight against this phenomenon differs case by case. However, it could be stated in general that openness towards this issue is growing on employers´ part. Also an increase in supply of stress management courses by private educational institutions is worth noticing (however, often targeted to people in management). Stress management courses are relatively often offered as part of a further vocational training of employees, (especially medical, pedagogical, social staff or civil servants).

Data on coverage and effectiveness are not available.

Are the interventions devised to be implemented at the primary (action on causes) / secondary (action on individuals) or tertiary (action on the consequences of stress) stage?

Data for evaluation of types of interventions by this categorization are not available. It can be stated generally that legislation strives in particular for the primary intervention, educational programmes focus on apart from the primary intervention also on the secondary type. The tertiary level is developed least.

Are any common instruments to measure stress at organisational level being used, developed, tested or assessed? Please describe them, indicating since when they are in place.

Not known.

Please identify and describe up to three examples of good practice and their effectiveness in terms of stress management, with a special focus on the lessons learned. These can be at national, sectoral or organisational level.

A comprehensive development programme focusing on prevention and support in the field of stress management in employees’ everyday life was implemented in 2005-2007 by Air Products. This company received a financial support for the project from the European structural funds. An impulse for launching the project was a negative outcome of a corporate survey which showed that 59% employees suffered from increased stress. Within a preventive care for employees’ health the company involves their employees in the programme “Relax, please!“ focusing on prevention of occupational diseases, stress in particular.

Support of health at work is the aim of efforts also in T-Mobile, where in 2009 a programme supporting employees’ health and safety was run. The project “Healthy company” consisted of three parts – “Medical prevention“ focusing on a healthy working environment, “Lifestyle“ supporting correct habit-forming in the field of healthy food and “Try it safely“ consisting in various H&S trainings. The programme tackles the issue of stress only generally, no concrete intervention in this matter has been carried out.

To eliminate stress is an objective which is pushed for also by a manufacturer of automotive components Olho-Technik Czech. The company is a holder of the certificate “Equal opportunities and measures for work-life balance”, putting emphasis on an individual approach towards employees’ needs and support of work-life balance. Among other measures, the company has installed wall bars in manufacturing shops so that employees can have a stretch, they also receive vitamins and wellness vouchers in the benefit system, health days and complex medical examinations are organized there.

Are there any public discussions and/or interventions that address specifically the identification, prevention and management of stress due to organisational change and restructuring? If yes, please summarise them.

The topic of stress is a frequently discussed phenomenon in the Czech society. Instructions how to avoid and cope with stress at work appear in handbooks for HR specialists and companies, alike in popular magazines and newspapers, the topic is dealt with by experts in the field of psychology. However, the topic is not discussed at the level of national decision-making institutions nor belongs among their priorities. Social partners, especially trade unions, strive to make employees aware of the topic, include the agenda in the collective bargaining and last but not least they express their interest in a more accurate legislative definition of work-related stress in the next amendment to the Labour Code.

Q5 Commentary

Please provide your own/your institution/centre view on work-related stress, referring to, for example, national debates about the topic or any other issue considered important from your national perspective which was not covered by this questionnaire.

Even without existence of a systematic monitoring of stress it can be assumed that stress together with the growing pace of work are phenomena which occur in the working environment in the Czech Republic more and more. At the same time, however, another dimension of this phenomenon can be observed: “To be under stress at work “ and “to be busy “ seem to be, to a certain extent, an attribute of successfulness and in a modern language of working people a lack of stress is a sign of career failure.

In the Czech Republic the topic of stress does not belong among topics which are paid much attention to by the national politics nor by the scientific community. Nevertheless, it is a topic, which people are aware of and perceive it as a problem. Probably at least some of employers start responding to it and make efforts to eliminate stress in their working environment, however, as a research is missing, it is hard anyhow to evaluate a level and efficiency of these interventions.

A certain hope in further findings about this phenomenon in the Czech Republic is given by publication of results of the project “Workplace stress – prevention opportunities“ planned for the first half of the year 2010.

Reference:

Hana Geissler, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs

Useful? Interesting? Tell us what you think. Hide comments

Lisa kommentaar