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Are payday loan companies adding to workplace stress?

Payday loans, small unsecured loans designed to be taken over a short period, have grown in popularity hugely over the last few years. The rise has been linked by many to the economic squeeze, but also to a ferocious marketing drive by lending companies that exposed television viewers to loan adverts 7.5 billion times in 2012.

Critics of loan companies claim they target vulnerable people and lend money without undertaking adequate checks that debtors can afford them. Campaigners also say that the costs of a loan are not easy to understand, particularly if they are 'rolled over' into new loans.

It's too soon to say if the payday loans controversy will be quelled by new regulations geared to reining in loan companies' more predatory activities.

Complaints against payday loan companies have more than doubled in the past two years, the Financial Ombudsman recently announced. This adds grist to the mill of those who claim that the industry has been operating in a far from satisfactory manner.

Research last year found that household debt had reached record highs, and that almost 9 million people in the UK had 'serious' debt problems. More than a third of workers said that stress in the workplace was down to their money troubles.

It's beyond the scope of most employers to remedy their workers' financial problems, but there are certainly steps that they can take to identify, monitor, and reduce levels of stress at work.

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