Alarming statistics for workplace stress

The fact that 11% of those employed in Scotland’s public sector were off work with stress or some other form of illness at some point last year makes for depressing reading, especially for those of us who are in the 4.6 million in the UK who are self-employed.

In the 20 years I have been working for myself I can honestly say I have not had a prolonged spell off my work.

The longest time off was eight years ago when I had a stent installed in my heart on the Thursday, but was back at work on the Saturday, not that I am trying to promote myself as some kind of hard man. Far from it, as I am as wimpish as the next man when it comes to man flu.

No, the simple reality is that if I decide to take a sickie there is no one to take over, expect in the rare case where I have sub-contracted in order to get the job done.

Not that I am complaining, indeed I prefer the independence of working for myself, free of the passing the buck that I encountered in my 22 years working in the public sector last century. Never do today what others might do tomorrow was never a good philosophy.

Nor am I unsympathetic to the problems of those suffering from stress, or any other mental illness. I count myself lucky in generally enjoying good health.

Nevertheless I am cynical about the numbers of workers who appear at first glance to seem not to want to be at work. For those who can’t stand the heat, I would suggest you get out of the kitchen, though again I am acutely aware of the bullying that goes on in the workplace. Cut out this unacceptable abuse of staff and you’ll see the sickness levels dramatically drop.

Encouragingly for those of us who plough a lone furrow in pursuit of a crust there is evidence that our younger people like the idea of going it alone, including our many paper boys and girls who brave the elements each morning to ensure we readers get our fix of our favourite newspaper.

The fact that these young folk enter willingly into a contract with readers bodes well for the future, even at such a basic level in the world of work.

We need such dedication to duty, though I am acutely aware that the same army of workers do not always meet the high expectations of consumers, including those of you who cannot understand why having committed yourselves to a contract, some of you insist on having a long lie when the school holidays come along.

To the lads and lassies who stand accused of late delivery I would gently, but firmly point out that when you entered into the contract it was binding and included getting the morning paper on the breakfast table at the same time each day.

I assume these offenders are in the minority, while the rest send out strong messages that we have a generation of young workers coming up in which we can be proud.