Mental health and the workplace

As the stigma surrounding mental health continues, Mental Health Awareness Week is a reminder to employers to ensure that employees struggling with mental health issues in the workplace are supported.

People with mental health conditions face a constant struggle to find a working environment that is accessible and accommodates their condition, and does not exacerbate it. The number of people admitted to treatment under the Mental Health Act rises year on year, and so it’s important that employers are aware of their duty and role in tackling this taboo subject.

The Department of Health states that at any one time, 1 in 4 adults will be experiencing mental health conditions including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder.

Disability discrimination

Under the Equality Act 2010 a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantially adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Long term is defined as lasting or likely to last 12 months or more.

Reasonable adjustments

Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabilities in the workplace and make things that little bit easier for their staff. In many cases, simple and cost effective workplace adjustments can make a vast difference. Examples of workplace adjustments to accommodate mental health conditions include:

  • Change in practice
  • Change in workload
  • Extending flexible work policies
  • Changes to working area
  • Re-allocation of tasks

Changes can ensure that as long as a person has the right skills for a job there are no barriers to them being able to apply for, or perform that job role.

Reasonableness relates to the employer’s resources and whether or not it would be excessively disruptive to the business, staff or the role to make such changes.

There are huge benefits to both employers and employees in implementing the correct reasonable adjustments.

For advice on dealing with mental health as a disability in the workplace and making reasonable adjustments please contact Sejal Raja on sejal.raja@rlb-law.com.


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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