Dealing with mental health issues in the workplace

March 13, 2020

Dealing with and supporting those experiencing mental health difficulties in the workplace is something employers should take seriously.


Research has revealed that one in four people will experience mental health problems every year so employers should be alert to this and create working environments where employees can talk openly about mental health and wellbeing.

Research by the TUC found that only one in four people with a mental illness or phobia lasting for 12 months or more are in work, with £105 billion lost to the UK economy owing to mental health related reasons.


Latham Parry, partner and head of employment law at Watsons Solicitors, explained why employers need to be proactive when it comes to supporting employees.


He said: “Employers do have duties under common law – known as a duty of care, under statute, as a result of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and under the employment contract to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their employees, including mental health.


“Mental health conditions can sometimes constitute a disability within the meaning under the Equality Act 2010, so employers have to take care to not discriminate and may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments.”


According to the Health and Safety Executive labour force survey, in 2018/19, an average of 21.2 working days were lost per person to stress, depression or anxiety across the UK.


Latham added: “In the event of being unsure on how to manage or deal with mental health issues at work, whether as an employer or member of staff, it is important to seek expert advice from employment law specialist who can provide practical and legal advice as to what steps can or should be taken.”


The impact on employers also makes for interesting reading as, according to ACAS, managers spend 20 working days a year managing absence.


Stephen Law-Lyons, Institute of Directors health and wellbeing ambassador for Cheshire, said a proactive approach to supporting staff can relieve the pressure on senior leaders.


He said: “The UK economy loses 22m lost workdays per year, 15.4m from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, and 6.6m because of work-related musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders.


“The costs involved are in the billions.


“By raising awareness and signposting business leaders to the best support we can help reduce lost workdays as a result of musculoskeletal (MSK) issues and mental unwellness.”


Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 60 years, specialises in family law, employment law, wills and probate, and conveyancing.


The team of experienced solicitors hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.


If you have any queries regarding employment law, please speak to our employment team on 01925 571 212.


Alternatively, click for more information about Watsons Solicitors’ employment law services.

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