Having good mental health in the workplace is essential to improving productivity and keeping costs down, but it’s also something that is regulated by law. Society as a whole is taking a more proactive approach to recognising and improving mental health and employers are now legally obliged to follow set regulations in order to safeguard those in their employ.
It is important to be aware of the regulations in place so that you know the rights of your staff when it comes to stress and mental wellbeing at work and protect yourself from potential legal actions. Knowing the regulations and requirements is also the first steo to tackling mental illness in the workplace, better supporting your colleagues and enhancing the productivity and morale of your team.
The Equality Act 2010
This is the written law that prevents discrimination within the workplace, in everyday life, and within educational settings. It protects individuals with a disability from being discriminated against. To be protected under this act, the mental health condition has to be considered a disability, meaning it presents additional challenges, has a moderate effect on day-to-day life, and has lasted for a year or more.
Disclosure of Mental Health Issues
When applying for a job, employers cannot ask for mental health records and your staff do not need to disclose this at any time throughout their employment with you. However, it is well worth taking all measures you can to make a safe and accepting environment where your staff feel they can discuss and disclose their issues without judgement.
Employer’s Duty of Care
Employers do have a duty of care in providing a safe working environment, which extends to supporting each employee’s mental wellbeing. Therefore, as well as not discriminating against staff, it is important to consider what reasonable adjustments can be made to benefit your staff such as changing shift patterns or providing more one-on-one support.
Absence Due to Mental Health
As an employer, any absences due to mental health should be taken seriously. Overall in the UK, it is estimated that mental health costs employers £26 billion per annum and has a huge impact on productivity. When a staff member calls in sick with poor mental wellbeing, this needs to be treated with support and taken as seriously as a physical ailment.
Thriving at Work Standards
In 2017, a review of mental health in the workplace called Thriving at Work was commissioned to see how employers could better support the mental health of their staff. The standards aim to implement a plan to encourage healthy mental wellbeing and raise awareness by making resources easily accessible to all employees and providing solid guidelines for employers to follow.
What steps are you taking to improve mental health and wellbeing at your place of work? I’d love to know!