An expert's guide to giving stress the flick

18:46, Oct 08 2012
Stress ball
Can you avoid stress?

According to a study published in Lancet medical journal, people with highly stressful jobs but little real control over decision making are running a 23 per cent increased risk of a heart attack, writes Mary-Jane Thomas in Work to Rule.

Fantastic. When I read this I decided to do an internet search on tips to avoid stress.

Exercise - yep, tried that - doesn't work. I just get fit and get stressed about not doing enough exercise and then feel worse than when I wasn't exercising.

Eat healthy - yep, tried that - doesn't work. I simply have never craved a salad nor chosen an apple over hot chips. When I do eat healthy and lose weight my body dysmorphia kicks in, which leaves me feeling more stressed.

Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid nicotine - yep, tried that - doesn't work. Giving up smoking proved disastrous to my anger management routine, which meant that rather than internalising the anger on my cigarette break I tended to externalise my anger (not good).

Get plenty of sleep - yep , tried that, but too stressed to sleep.


So here are my guides to de-stressing: Do not employ anyone nor be employed.

Have no clients, or if you do make sure they have plenty of money and low expectations.

Ban deadlines.

Have no budget targets.

Focus on things you cannot change (like saving the whales and global warming) rather than how you will pay your provisional tax.

On a lighter note, it is common practice within the farming community for employers to provide accommodation to their employees for the duration of the employment relationship.

This type of arrangement is called a service tenancy and is different to that of a residential tenancy. It is a form of tenancy that is tied to the existence of the employment relationship and, when that employment relationship ends, so too should the tenancy.

If the Individual Employment Agreement between the employer and employee does not expressly provide for the service tenancy in writing, the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 was amended in July 2010 to include a service tenancy in such situations. A service tenancy is now defined under the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010 as follows:

'Service tenancy means a tenancy granted under a term of, or otherwise as an incident of, a contract of service or a contract for services between the landlord as employer and the tenant as employee or contractor, whether or not a separate tenancy agreement is concluded in writing between the parties, and whether or not any rent is payable for the tenancy ...'

The Amendment Act also changed the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to include the relationship of principal and independent contractor. This would cover the situation of a lower order sharemilker or a 50/50 sharemilking position.

It is important for employers to note the notice provisions required to end a service tenancy under the act. The notice period that the employer is required to give to terminate the service tenancy is 14 days. The act also provides for certain situations where that notice period can be reduced:

'(2) Where the contract of service or, as the case requires, contract for services is terminated, or the tenant is transferred to another district, on less than 14 days' notice, the landlord may terminate the service tenancy by the giving of notice of less than 14 days if -

(a) the landlord believes on reasonable grounds that the tenant will cause substantial damage to the premises if the tenant is permitted to remain for 14 days; or

(b) it is necessary for the conduct of the landlord's business where the tenant was employed that a replacement employee be appointed within less than 14 days and no suitable alternative accommodation is available for the replacement worker during the period of 14 days.'

» Mary-Jane Thomas is a partner at Preston Russell Law. E-mail questions to

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