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Stressful legal matters damaging mental health

20 April 2021

NEARLY ONE in six small business owners (14 per cent) say that stress caused by legal matters has led to a physical or mental health condition, according to new research from Direct Line business insurance.*

More than four in ten (41 per cent) UK small business owners say they have found staying on top of legal matters stressful, while more than a third (34 per cent) say that they have had sleepless nights.  

This is concerning because more than one in ten small business owners say their stress levels are likely to increase, despite the Covid-19 lockdown slowly drawing to a close. As well as this, 13 per cent expect their stress levels to increase over the next 12 months.

The most stressful legal matters causing anxiety among small business owners are:

  • Health and safety (28 per cent)
  • Late payments and debt recovery (26 per cent)
  • Brexit-imposed regulation changes (23 per cent)
  • Data protection (GDPR) matters (19 per cent)
  • Redundancy or furlough matters (18 per cent)

Small business owners may be increasing the risk of stress by not paying close attention to regulation changes (40 per cent) or underestimating the threat legal matters can present. Over half of these SME owners do not do this because they believe there are no substantial legal risks to their business right now. 17 per cent said that they do not have the time right now to stay up to speed. 

When questioned about potential solutions, almost two fifths (37 per cent) of those surveyed said that the ability to call a free helpline and receive legal advice over the phone would make managing legal matters less stressful.

Jane Morgan, SME product manager at Direct Line said, “The evidence is clear. Legal matters can have damaging effects on mental health.

“Staying on top of legal matters may seem daunting at first, but with a few simple checks and by accessing the right resources, small business owners can stay one step ahead and avoid sleepless nights."

* Opinium survey of 250 small business owners conducted 5th-10th February 2021

For more information visit www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk