Every year 1st February marks a crucial day, Time to Talk Day supported by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. Time to Talk Day is a day used to encourage people to open up about their mental health. Whilst it is important to open up about our mental health in our personal lives, it is also crucial to be able to be honest and open in the workplace. Time to Talk Day is therefore a great time for employers to support their employees in opening up conversation about their mental health. Be it during a chat over coffee or a lunch with your colleagues, employers need to ensure that their employees have a safe and open space to be honest about their mental health.
Whilst mental health is an important topic in the workplace, it is also an important issue in law. Under the Equality Act 2010, mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression may amount to a disability. By law an employee with a disability has the right not to be subject to less favourable or unfavourable treatment. Further the law goes beyond this and imposes a positive duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments. Below we talk about some steps that you can take to support your employees with their mental health and ensure that you don’t fall foul of any discrimination laws.
Be Clear in your Policies
Having a clear equality and diversity policy that is correctly implanted is crucial to ensure that employees know that they have the space to be open and honest about their mental health. By implementing these policies and being clear that discrimination is not tolerated you can prevent discrimination in the workplace.
Make Reasonable Adjustments
Reasonable Adjustments are changes that an employer can make for employees to remove disadvantages in their employment. For example, this could include making changes to their workplace, changing their working arrangements or providing equipment or support.
Making reasonable adjustments is not just a duty by law, but also a great way to allow employees flourish and remove disadvantages in the workplace. When it comes to mental health there are a number of things that an employer can do to remove disadvanatges such as altering working hours or ensuring communication is done in a specific way. For more examples and ways to make reasonable adjustments, employers can refer to the ACAS guidance Examples – Reasonable adjustments for mental health – Acas.
It is easy for employers to give lip service to their policies and suggest that they are open to discussing mental health without actually implementing these. Employers need to take seriously the impact that mental health can have on employees and be genuine in their offering support. It is not enough to just have policies in place, employers must also act where an employee raises mental health issues or discrimination in the workplace. By doing this, an employer fosters a supportive environment, which in turn will allow employees to be open about their struggles.
For more information on how to implement reasonable adjustments or for help with drafting/ updating your equality and diversity policies, please get in touch.
Swan Craig Solicitors are a locally trusted and thoroughly regulated law firm, housing qualified solicitors and experienced legal professionals well-versed in UK employment law. With the knowledge, training and expertise to advise you on issues with your employer or working environment, we are authorised and insured to give you legal guidance. With over 18 years of experience, our dedicated team are available at your convenience, so simply contact us today, on everything from disciplinaries to changes in contract.
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