In every job, there is an element of stress. The degree of stress that an employee can experience depends on a number of factors such as, but not limited to, their sector or the workplace.
It has been an extremely difficult time for businesses during the pandemic, especially in certain sectors where they have struggled to keep afloat. Now as we enter the third year of the pandemic, some businesses are struggling to retain staff.
Mental health has come to the forefront of HR related discussions in recent years, more so, since the pandemic started. There appears to be a gradual shift in employees’ mindsets (whether through being made redundant, being placed on furlough, or experiencing a better work/life balance when having to work from home) where they want to change careers or their workplace.
An unhappy employee leaving can prove expensive for their employer, not only do they lose talent; recruitment and re-training can be time-consuming and costly.
How should businesses tackle mental health issues?
What does the law say?
- Employers have a duty of care under health and safety legislation for an employee’s health and safety and well-being. Employers have to make sure the working environment is safe and carry out risk assessments.
- Employers need to be aware that an employee’s mental health may be a disability under the Equality Act 2010. They will need to make reasonable adjustments and make sure the employee is not subject to discrimination.
Practical tips for employers
- Support and train your managers, ensure they have the ‘tools’ to have the confidence and knowledge to manage mental health issues at work.
- Train your managers to identify signs and patterns (such as considering data from sickness records), that may suggest a member of staff is struggling with their mental health.
- Ensure that your managers or supervisors keep in regular contact with staff, especially those that have gone back to fully working from home.
- Ensure a good working environment, promote a healthy work-life balance. Ensure that staff can develop within that environment e.g. clear promotion routes.
- Make sure staff are aware that the company will not dismiss or marginalise a mental health issue, promote an ‘open door policy’ and demonstrate there is no stigma attached to someone who is struggling with their mental health.
- Undertake regular risk assessments, does your member of staff need any adjustments made?
- Many companies have ‘health and safety’ officers, depending on the size of your organisation and resources why not have ‘mental health’ officers?
- Don’t be afraid to use outside resources such as occupational health services or Access to Work.
- If you have a trade union or work council, collaborate with them, by working together, you give yourself the opportunity to consider more ideas/options.
By identifying, tackling, and being alert to an employee’s mental health issues as they happen rather than allowing them to fester, you minimise having to deal with legal issues that may arise later down the line.
Here at Bindmans, our Employment Law team is happy to assist employers in navigating mental health issues in their workplace. For more information visit our web page, or contact us on +44 (0)20 7833 4433.