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Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace

Employees are an employer’s biggest asset. But a staggering 70 million workdays are lost each year in the UK because of mental health problems, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

The impact of mental health problems in the workplace has an effect not only on the individual but on the efficiency of the business.  The way an employee performs, absence, accidents and staff turnover are all affected by the employees’ mental health so employers have every reason to support their employees with their mental health.

Kindness is this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week. Being kind is not a legal obligation of employers, but it can help fulfil legal obligations AND have a positive (and measurable) effect on the workplace.

The Stats Behind Mental Health

Some of the stats highlighted by the Mental Health Foundation also include the following work-related points:

  • Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
  • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Considering the reduced quality of life, the annual costs in England related to mental health problems amounted to over £100 billion.
  • Better health in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year.

And alongside those statistics, there is the good side to what happens when the workplace supports mental health:

  • Engaged employees are more productive, miss less work, and perform better while at work.
  • Workplaces that support physical and mental wellbeing have a lower staff turnover rate and find it easier to recruit new staff.

When employees are happy, everyone benefits.

Employer Obligations Around Mental Health

The Equality Act 2010 classes some mental health issues as a disability which means that many individuals with mental health issues qualify for protection under the Act and Employers must provide for this by making reasonable adjustments within the workplace.

In addition, Employers have a legal obligation known as ‘duty of care’. This means employers must do all they reasonably can to support the health, safety, and wellbeing of their workers. Including:

  • Making sure the working environment is safe, both for physical health and mental health.
  • Protecting staff from discrimination, which can include discrimination because of mental health.
  • Carrying out risk assessments. The current pandemic requires employers to perform a COVID-19 specific risk assessment, too.

If you need advice about your obligations as an employer or rights as an employee, we can help.

How to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

Being proactive about mental health will make a big (and positive) impact on your staff. Health and safety should consider not only physical health, but also mental health. Thorough policies, health and safety procedures, and communication to foster trusting relationships will all work together.

Changes in the workplace, like restructuring and redundancies, will particularly influence staff mental health. When you consider your redundancy policies and processes, considering mental health in the first place will make the process smoother.

How Kidwells Solicitors Can Help

Our team is experienced not only in law, but in business and HR. Our combination of business acumen and legal expertise will help build a solid foundation for a better workplace.

We can help you as a business to support your employees and your business with policies, Health & Safety, contracts, and other aspects of employment and HR that help foster a healthy company culture and efficient processes. All while remaining legally sound to protect both employer and employee.

If as an employee you are being treated unfairly at work and need legal advice, we can help.

For all employment law and HR advice and needs, contact our office at 01432 278 179 and ask for Kate Wargen, Head of Client Employment & HR. You can also use the web chat or email us.

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