Last week, our Managing Partner and Head of Employment & HR at Darwin Gray, Fflur Jones, was delighted to mark Mental Health Awareness Week by attending the annual Mental Health & Wellbeing Show in Cardiff to present an important seminar, aimed at employers, about how to effectively manage employees’ mental health.
During this interactive seminar, Fflur drew on her vast experience of employment law to provide real life examples of discrimination claims that she has successfully brought in the Employment Tribunal, with the aim of highlighting common mistakes made by employers when it comes to managing the mental health of employees and how to avoid them.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, our Employment & HR experts share the key lessons outlined in this seminar:
Can a mental health condition amount to a disability?
Yes. An employee is treated as having a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Therefore, if a mental health condition is long term and impacts upon the employee’s ability to go about their daily life, it may amount to a disability.
How can an employer identify signs of poor mental health amongst staff?
The following are common indicators that an employee is struggling with a mental health condition:
- Obvious changes in behaviour
- Drop in work standards or performance
- Increased sickness absences
- Social withdrawal
What steps should an employer take if an employee is struggling with their mental health?
1 – Make reasonable adjustments
If an employee has a disability, employers have a duty to implement reasonable adjustments. Discuss with the employee whether you can implement any reasonable adjustments to support them in the workplace e.g., flexible working patterns, and review them regularly to see if they need to be adjusted.
2 – Manage sickness absences supportively
Don’t treat absence management as a tick boxing exercise or rush to discipline an employee for their absences if you suspect they may have a mental health condition. If you suspect there is an underlying mental health condition causing an increase in the employee’s sickness absence, discuss this with the employee and find out how you can help them receive the support they need to continue working.
3 – Obtain medical and legal advice
Consider obtaining a medical report from an Occupational Health specialist as soon as possible in order to better understand the employee’s condition and how to support them in the workplace. It is also recommended that you obtain legal advice in order to ensure that you are complying with your legal obligations.
If you need any information about employment law and discrimination, please get in touch with our Employment and HR team on 02920 829 100 for a free, no-obligation chat to see how they can help.