New ACAS Guidance for Employees’ Mental Health

Acas has launched new guidance on reasonable adjustments for mental health at work for both employers and workers.

Mental health issues can affect one in four people at some point in their lives and have a significant impact on employee wellbeing. They are a major cause of long-term absence from work. Employers should promote good mental health and provide support for employees who are experiencing mental ill health including anxiety or depression.

The Legal Position

Discrimination against those with mental health issues remains a problem in workplaces, even though a significant proportion of the workforce will face poor mental health during their working life.

In Great Britain, disability discrimination provisions in the Equality Act 2010 encompass many mental illnesses which can legally be classed as a disability. A range of conditions may qualify a person for protection under the Act providing there is a substantial and long-term effect (for at least a year) on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day tasks. Mental impairments do not need to be clinically well-recognised to qualify as a disability.

If an employee has a disability, their organisation has a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their needs – this includes those with mental health conditions.

New ACAS Guidance

It is important for employers to take an employee’s mental health problem seriously and with the same care as a physical illness. Acas has new guidance and resources to help support employers and employees when handling reasonable adjustments for mental health at work, including practical steps and what considerations they should be aware of.

The advice covers:

  • Defining reasonable adjustments for mental health.
  • Examples of reasonable adjustments for mental health.
  • Requesting reasonable adjustments for mental health.
  • Responding to reasonable adjustments for mental health requests.
  • Managing employees with reasonable adjustments for mental health.
  • Reviewing policies with a focus on mental health.

Supporting mental health in the workplace continues to receive substantial focus from Government, institutions and employers alike, and rightly so. The shift towards home and hybrid working has increased the complexity of monitoring and supporting staff, and as such a continues focus will be required to support the workforce. If you require a review of your organisations policies, please contact The AP Partnership.

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