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‘Time to Talk Day 2020’.

141.1 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in the UK in 2018*, with mental health conditions such as stress, depression and anxiety being some of the most common reasons for this absence.

‘Time to Talk Day’ aims to encourage everyone to be more open about mental health, making time to talk, listen and change the lives of those struggling with their mental health.

In this short blog, we discuss an employer’s duty of care and ways they can support employees.

Employers Duty of Care
‘Duty of Care’ is a legal obligation to ensure the safety or well-being of employees, preventing exposure to unreasonable harm at work, both physical and psychological. This duty of care extends to the mental health (including workplace stress) of employees.

If a business has five or more employees, an employer must have a written health and safety policy, which all employees should be aware of.

As well as written policies, there are also practical ways that an employer can support employees with their mental health, these include:

  • Provide training for line managers that enables them to identify warning signs that an employee/colleague is struggling with their mental health
  • Encourage formal and informal check-ups between managers, line managers and all employees
  • Encourage all staff to talk and listen to colleagues
  • Allow time off for doctor’s appointments and counselling sessions for those suffering with their mental health
  • Offer flexible working hours (where possible)
  • Encourage regular social events for staff
  • Ensure employees take their annual leave
  • Discourage weekend and out of hours work where it is not necessary
  • Encourage employees to make full use of their lunch break
  • Have regular mental health days – today could be the first of many! Encourage your employees to talk about how they are feeling

Ongoing mental health

If an employee has an ongoing mental health problem that meets the definition of disability in the Equality Act (2010) and the Disability Discrimination Act, they are protected from discrimination and harassment and are entitled to reasonable adjustments to adapt their job or work.

These adjustments can include:

  • Altering an employee’s working pattern, such as their start or finish time
  • Flexible working, such as providing a laptop and remote access so your employee can work from home
  • Finding alternative networking and business development opportunities

If you feel your employer has failed to provide the necessary duty of care, or failed to resolve a grievance, you may be able to make a claim.

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you because of a mental health condition, discrimination can include termination of your contract or overlooking you for a promotion as a result of your mental health.

You can contact our employment department for free legal advice on: 0114 225 6666 | enquiries@shulaw.co.uk.

Our employment team can also draft documents for employers, such as a health and safety policy and employment contracts.


*Office for National Statistics, 2019

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