More Info About Healthy Workplace Bill S3863

Mike Schlicht reports that the New York State Psychological Association reissued its memorandum of support for Healthy Workplace Bill.

Memorandum in Support

AN ACT to amend the labor law, in relation to establishing
a private cause of action for an abusive work environment

The New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA), representing more than 3,000 psychologists and students of psychology, supports A4965 which aims to ensure that all individuals have access to a healthy work environment, free from abuse of any kind. Our comments are offered from the perspective of professionals who serve the public in addressing their emotional, psychological and behavioral health needs and are committed to the promotion of a psychologically healthy workplace in all settings.

Evidence is strong that in today’s working world, even under the best of circumstances, workplace stress is rampant. Productivity demands, information overload and increasing pressure to balance work and home lives can take a toll on employees’ health, well-being and job satisfaction. If added to this is an  unhealthy, or even worse, an abusive work environment, consequences to the mental health of workers and to their viability in the workplace can be severe.

According to a national public opinion poll conducted by the American Psychological Association, two-thirds of both men and women say work has a significant impact on their stress level, and one in four has called in sick or taken a “mental health day” as a result of work stress. Also a significant concern for employers, job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees. Studies show that on-third of US employees are chronically overworked which has proven to add to mistakes and low work levels (Galinsky et al., 2005, p.2). While these statistics focus on workplace stress in general, it is obvious that the numbers would be significantly higher with added abusiveness.

Research abounds that there is significant prevalence of this phenomenon. According to a national survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, twelve percent of respondents reported either currently being bullied or having experienced this during the previous twelve months; twenty-four percent indicated they had been bullied in the past; and twelve percent reported witnessing, workplace bullying. Other studies have cited increases in incivility among members of many professional groups including academics, nursing and law.

Faced with skyrocketing healthcare costs, global competition and economic uncertainty, employers should be concerned about keeping up morale. Minimizing workplace stress plays a significant role in the employee retention equation as organizations look to optimize their human capital. Having healthy employees plays a significant role in keeping employer and employee health care costs from increasing. If an employer creates a hostile and abusive environment they not only increase healthcare costs for everyone else, they also threaten the workplace reputation of the community. Having laws that strive to support a healthy work environm
ent supports the efforts toward these positive goals.

With laws in place to provide protection and support for employees that are victims of this abuse, the employers will then have consequences. We have to challenge companies that are turning a blind eye to this problem. In cases where companies have responded to these business challenges by promoting healthy environments thereby addressing their workers’ needs and at the same time advancing the interests of their business.  In short, they build a psychologically healthy workplace.

NYSPA is affiliated with American Psychological Association, the New York State United Teachers, and the American Federation of Teachers

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Hunter College PSC Chapter Chair trying to intimidate a Colleague at a faculty meeting.

Hunter College PSC Chapter Chair trying to intimidate a Colleague at a faculty meeting.

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