Are UK employers now responsible for employees’ mental health? Short answer? Yes.
Theresa May made mental health one of her key policy issues. Part of her approach was to force employers to sort out mental health in the workplace.
That’s a tough call. All of the best companies want to look after their talent and maintain a happy and healthy workplace, but how are bosses supposed to do that? Let’s face it, it’s a very delicate area, and one where most of us have very little experience of how to handle the issues around it.
Has the Equality Act gone far enough for those in need of its protection or has the government’s redirection – shifting responsibility from NHS to employer – overstepped the mark?
How can employers ensure they’re qualified to make decisions surrounding employees’ mental health?
Employers have to find a way to make provision for monitoring and accommodating the needs of those with mental health issues. Legislation now makes it mandatory.
Most will go above and beyond for an employee seeking help. But how do they find and match the right solutions?
Disability discrimination legislation is a legal minefield. Failure to get it right can result in losses of talent, revenue and even costly tribunals. Employer or employee – t’s helpful to neither.
How many people in the UK workplace have mental health issues?
How many people in the UK workplace have mental health issues? It’s a big number. Some 1 in 4 people suffer with mental health issues in the UK, and in a country where in 2017, there were 5.7 million private businesses and 32.15 million people in work, that is more than eight million in the workplace dealing with mental health issues.
What is an employer’s duty to make “reasonable adjustments?”
An employer’s duty to make reasonable adjustments is at the heart of disability discrimination law.
Modern-day employers recognise the value of good welfare for their employees. However it’s fair to say the vast majority aren’t trained to manage it.
If the worst comes to the worst an employer may find him or herself mounting a defence in a tribunal case where there is a mis-match between what an employee has felt was required and an employer has provided as “reasonable adjustment” within working practices.
This can include – at the employers cost – private counselling and treatments.
Regardless of a business’ size, it is now imperative that it has a mental health policy in place. However, it shouldn’t be wholly relied upon. The implementation of such a policy will do little to prevent an employer being taken to a tribunal in the right set of circumstances.
Going to a tribunal is now a fundamental employee right. Since the Supreme Court ruled employment tribunal fees unlawful, there is now no financial barrier to employees having a case heard in court.
How do employers approach staff to open up about their mental health?
How do employers approach staff to open up about their mental health? Well it is not simple, nor is it the place for albeit well-meaning, but amateur, intervention.
Employers need information, education and real, high quality professional help to define their approach to mental health solutions in the workplace. The area itself needs black and white guidelines to create a workplace where employer and employee understand what is expected of them and how to move forward.
Bernadette Bruckner is a partner at MSBHelp.com – the online counselling, training and education portal for employers – supporting mental health in the workplace.