With recent research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reporting an increase in the cases of staff reporting mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, more employers are having to pay extra attention to the Equality Act 2010, where they must be sure not to discriminate against those with mental health issues.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that employers can hire anybody they want, as long as they treat every CV the same and don’t discriminate against those with mental health issues. The way the Equality Act is framed is so that people are encouraged, rather than discouraged, to apply for jobs.
In addition to this, when employers treat staff mental health issues sensitively, not only can they avoid discrimination lawsuits, they will see an increase in staff loyalty, lower staff turnover, a boost in morale and a positive impact on absence costs.
When employers are taking on new staff, they can ask questions to ensure candidates can successfully fulfil a role, but in general there is no obligation for an applicant to disclose any mental health condition. For applicants who do have a mental health condition, it may be worth notifying an employer once an offer has been made. After it’s been disclosed, the employer is bound by law to ensure that there is no victimisation, harassment or discrimination of the employee, as well as creating an even playing field for all employees by making reasonable adjustments.
Employers may not be able to easily find an adjustment for mental health issues, however, if an employee has anxiety, they could have their working hours changed to avoid rush hour, or trying them in a slightly different role. Whilst it is easier for employers to make adjustments for employees with physical disabilities, such as providing a Braille keyboard for blind staff members, it’s clear from CIPD research that providing adjustments for those with mental health issues benefits the business financially.
Positive mental health policies and fostering a culture of care, acceptance and understanding in the workplace requires adequate training of managers to be able to have necessary conversations with staff about their requirements. That way, mental health issues can be treated with the seriousness and respect they need to help staff and benefit employers.
If you have mental health issues and feel as if you’re being discriminated against at work, contact me now for a free initial chat to see where you stand. I also offer advice about changes and new laws that affect the workplace and employers, compromise agreements, representations before employment tribunals and professional bodies.