The Employment team at Backhouse are seeing a growing number of cases from employers in relation to employees disclosing struggles with mental health, including depression or anxiety issues.

Understanding your responsibilities as an employer in such circumstances can be challenging and with mental health issues on the rise, it is important that should any matters arise among your team, that they are dealt with correctly and sensitively.

In this article we offer guidance on understanding your responsibilities and rights, methods to monitor employee wellbeing and solutions for emerging issues, all while adhering to UK employment law regarding Mental Health.

What does the law require?

Employers have a ‘duty of care’. This means you must do all you reasonably can to support the mental health, safety and wellbeing of your employees, including making sure the work environment is safe.

Due to obligations under the Equality Act 2010, employers need to be vigilant and aware. Of the nine protected characteristics under the Act, mental health ties closely to disability discrimination. Under the Equality Act, an employer must ensure that:

  • Disabled employees are not treated less favourably than a non-disabled employee.
  • All staff members uphold the dignity and respect of disabled employees.
  • Consideration is given to making reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

Why is it essential to monitor your employees’ wellbeing?

Employers should carry out regular wellbeing health checks of their employees to identify those at potential risk of declining mental health and provide timely intervention and support where needed. There are a few effective ways to do this;

  • Regular check-ins: Arrange routine one-on-one meetings with staff to discuss workloads, any challenges faced, and general wellbeing.
  • Surveys and Feedback: Anonymous employee wellbeing surveys can help gather genuine feedback and understand the broader wellbeing landscape of your team.
  • Training Managers: By training managers and supervisors to identify signs of declining mental health so they can offer first-line support or direct employees to appropriate resources.
  • Open communication: Encourage an environment where employees feel safe to voice concerns or share experiences related to their mental health.

What should you do if an issue arises?

It’s essential that as an employer, you approach matters of employee mental health with empathy, understanding and follow the correct process. Depending on the issue here are some possible solutions you could consider:

  1. Professional Support: Offer access to counselling or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which can provide professional help.
  2. Flexible Working: For employees struggling with mental health, consider offering flexible working hours or the option of working remotely if this will benefit the employee.
  3. Awareness and Training: Organise regular mental health awareness sessions or workshops to open discussions around mental health.
  4. Reasonable Adjustments: For those with diagnosed mental health conditions, ensure any necessary workplace adjustments are considered and implemented, from changing work hours to providing additional tools or resources.

How we can help:

If your business is experiencing issues with mental health in the workplace, we can offer more information, support and expert employment law advice to make sure you follow the correct processes. Contact the Backhouse Team for further help and guidance.

Tel:          01245 893400
Visit:       17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JU
Or send us a message through the Contact Us page on this website.