Mental Ill-Health Issues
Mental ill-health at work issues can manifest in numerous ways including long-term sickness (e.g. through depression, anxiety or long term incapacity), workplace personality clashes, grievances, potential disciplinary scenarios and under-performance. Mental ill-health costs Britain around 4.5% of its GDP (including benefits, NHS costs and low productivity).
One in five workers will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives, according to a 2015 report from the OECD. Mental ill-health is responsible for between one third and one half of all long-term sickness and disability among the working age population in OECD countries. The OECD found that at work, 70% of those who suffer mild to moderate mental illness say they struggle and are less productive.
The cost to businesses of mental ill-health amongst its employees is estimated at 30% of lost productivity, resulting in £77 billion of lost revenue across European employers – see article on the Unilever Report. The issue is so serious that larger employers, such as BT and Unilever, are introducing ‘gold-plated’ policies to tackle the problem. The cost of implementing such policies will be beyond the reach of smaller employers, especially SMEs, so we have devised a strategy for smaller employers to tackle the problem, economically and effectively.
Our Unique Solution Package
We recognise the issues concerning mental ill-health in the workplace. There is a serious cost – both to employers and employees in terms of health, lost revenue and disruption. We decided that we would lead the way in providing a solution that meets the complex needs of both employers of all sizes and their employees, by developing strategies and resources to enable businesses to minimise the impact of mental ill-health on the business and to help rehabilitate staff to their previous levels of productivity.
We have taken a four-step approach to the workplace issues:
- Prevention of mental ill-health
- De-stigmatisation of mental ill-health
- Early recognition of mental ill-health
- Providing appropriate support to those suffering from mental ill-health
To achieve these steps, we have put together a team of professionals who can act to limit the development of mental ill-health and its costs to the business. The team includes the firm’s solicitors, who are very experienced in advising on managing workplace mental ill-health issues, together with HR, workplace counselling, consultant occupational health and consultant psychiatric support.
The team provides a bespoke approach which can involve the appropriate blend of legal advice, occupational health assessment and support, workplace mediation, individual or joint counselling sessions and (if required) consultant psychiatric advice, to help employers with the tools to prevent mental ill-health amongst their employees and to help rehabilitate employees with mental ill-health issues. This typically involves providing early support and access to professional help, with the aim of getting them back to work with the appropriate tools to help them feel comfortable in the workplace; reach the required level of performance for their role; and cope in situations of conflict/ personality clash.
The process followed needs to take into account the impact of disability discrimination legislation, capability, disciplinary and grievance processes, to produce a Return to Work plan. It could transpire that role changes, or even assisting an employee to find work elsewhere, could be the appropriate solution. The key to our approach is that early action can be taken to minimise disruption and assist recovery, while ensuring that all appropriate options are explored.
The aim of the team is to enable employers and employees to have an alternative to the often intransigent situation of long-term sickness, which tend to result in expensive, disruptive and often distressing dismissal scenarios, which have a detrimental effect on all concerned.
Mental Ill-Health At Work Policy
We recognise that dealing with sensitive issues concerning mental ill-health in the workplace is difficult for both employers and employees. As ACAS highlight, the issues often seem “too personal, too deep and too complex”. We have carefully developed a policy which provides employers of all sizes with a clear strategy and tools for dealing pro-actively with mental ill-health in the workplace.
The aims of the policy include:
- Providing a clear statement that the employer is committed to ensuring that any of its staff who experience mental ill-health difficulties do not suffer ignorance or discrimination at work;
- Providing managers with training to recognise the issues early and the appropriate steps for them to take to prevent or minimise the effects of mental ill-health;
- Providing the workforce with information about mental ill-health difficulties and in doing so de-stigmatising these issues. Historically those with mental health difficulties have suffered as a result of the negative social stigma that they are “dangerous”, “unpredictable” or even “violent”. Our policy aims to dispel these myths and educate the workforce about the reality of mental health difficulties, their prevalence and the wide range of symptoms suffered by those who suffer from these difficulties;
- Providing employers with the appropriate tools to assist staff who suffer with mental ill-health difficulties, to remain in the workplace. It has long been recognised by the Government that many individuals with mental ill-health difficulties are unnecessarily forced to give up their jobs, which is a huge waste of talent for British business; and
- Providing staff with a greater awareness of the support that is available to them if they are suffering with a mental ill-health difficulty and encouraging early communication with their employer.
Our policy can be tailored to the size and resources of the business and its particular business needs. We can work alongside employers to ensure the strategy is implemented effectively and that staff receive appropriate training.
How Can We Help You?
For full details of what we can do to assist your business, please see our full Mental Ill-Health At Work page.
If you need any assistance in this area, please contact a member of our team.