BBC spends £815,000 on counselling staff for stress, bullying and harassment among other issues

Shruti Tripathi Chopra
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Stressed Out Workers
The corporation’s bill for counselling staff for the 2016/2017 financial year stands at £102,000 (Source: Getty)

The BBC has spent nearly £815,000 since 2010 counselling staff for stress, bullying and harassment among other issues, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.

The corporation’s bill for counselling staff for the 2016/2017 financial year increased to over £102,000 from the previous period during which it forked out nearly £94,500.

The BBC came under fire last year after complaints of bullying at the corporation when Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson punched a producer during filming the motoring show. Clarkson was subsequently sacked for his “unprovoked physical and verbal attack” on his colleague.

Figures obtained through a freedom of information request show that staff have taken over 3,600 days in stress-related sick days since 2010.

Until 27 September this year, staff took nearly 154 days in stress-related sick days, the figures show.

The corporation counsels its employees through its “Employee Assistance Programme” (EAP), which provides resources and counselling to help staff with personal issues including stress, bullying and harassment, workplace pressure, work-life balance and relationships.

In 2014/2015, the bill stood at £109,032 compared to nearly £125,000 the year before.

The highest bill footed by the taxpayer was in the 2011/2012 period where the corporation spent nearly £130,500 on counselling staff compared to nearly £130,000 a year before.

Read more: BBC’s £60m hotel bill: 2016 on track to be the highest on record

Meanwhile, stress led to BBC staff taking 417.5 days off last year compared to 383 in 2014 and 208 in 2013. The highest number of days taken off due to stress was in 2011 when staff was absent for 845 days. This was an increase from 2011 and 2010 when staff took 801.5 and 791.5 days off respectively.

Speaking about stress-related absence, a BBC spokesperson said: “We take these matters very seriously and rightly have a range of services and support for our staff.”

Read more: Openness and resilience can reduce stress at work

The number of sick days BBC staff took in total stood at 70,312 until 27 September 2016 compared to 94,112 days taken in 2015.

The tally for 2014, 2013 and 2012 stood at 91,594, 93,454 and 97,767 respectively.

BBC staff took a record number of days off sick in 2010 at over 115,000 with the number reducing to over 103,000 the following year.

A BBC spokesman said: “The total sick days this year has fallen by 39 per cent compared to 2010 and the employee average is broadly in line with the national average. We take the health and wellbeing of our staff seriously, like any responsible employer, and provide a number of health related support schemes”.

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