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FDR HR Clinic - mental health illness in the workplace

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HR advice from Kim Hayton, HR Director at FDR Law

Q: What is the impact of mental health illness in the workplace

A: Depression, stress and anxiety are the largest causes for UK sickness absence with 15.8 million work days lost in 2016*, and the Office of National Statistics report that 1 in 4 of us experience a mental illness each year

Mental ill health costs employers an estimated £34.9 billion each year in absences, reduced productivity and recruitment to replace workers who have left their jobs for mental health related reasons. 

In addition, employers could also be found liable under Employment Law.  In October 2017, Leeds Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Bannister, an employee of the HMRC, £75,000.  She had been dismissed after a long period of mental ill-health following a disagreement over a desk move.  The Tribunal found that the employer had not made reasonable adjustments to help her return to work.

Employers do have a legal duty of care to ensure that their employees are provided with a safe working environment and that they take reasonable care to prevent personal injury (including mental or physical harm) that may arise in the workplace.

Workplace mental health training has shown to make a lasting difference in people’s knowledge and confidence around mental health.  Initiatives by Mental Health First Aid England are helping managers and staff spot signs and symptoms of common mental health issues, provide non-judgemental support and reassurance, and guide a person to seek the professional support they may need to recover.

Kim says: “we’re hearing from clients regularly where staff issues could potentially link to mental health.  FDR Law has a Mental Health First Aider in place, and it is the way to go.  More managers need to be aware and trained accordingly.  We need to explore the issues fully before knee jerking into action – take heed!”

For HR advice and support around employment policies and procedures, contact Kim Hayton at FDR Law on 01925 230000 or email Kim.hayton@fdrlaw.co.uk

*Mental Health First Aid England - for more information on their training visit www.mhfaengland.org/ 

For details on the Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20th May 2018) go to www.mentalhealth.org.uk/