Mental Health – Reasonable Adjustments

Medical doctor making notes on a pad with a patient

ACAS has issued new guidance regarding Mental Health “Reasonable Adjustments”

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health condition this year according to Mind. In terms of employment law, ‘Disability’ is classed as a mental or physical impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities.  Many people may not think that their mental health condition is a disability, but employers should be aware of the possibility that it could be.

The Equality Act 2010 states that employers must ensure that where required reasonable adjustments are made for their workers, this includes candidates as well as employees and workers.

When making reasonable adjustments

It is essential that when an employee raises concerns about their mental health, that the employer deals with it in exactly the same way as a physical illness. Various events can cause someone to have mental health problems and can:

  • be the outcome of a particular event or trauma
  • be hard to identify due to various signals and signs
  • build up gradually over a time period and could mean that an employee’s usual coping strategies may change and they struggle with the demands of their job
  • be covered up as many people find it particularly hard to discuss mental health

When an employer considers reasonable adjustments, it is useful to remind yourself that all employees are different therefore what works for one person may not work for someone else.  All roles are different therefore what might work in one scenario may not work in another, and an employee’s well-being can fluctuate.

What are the benefits?

It is important for employers to promote mental health awareness within the organisation and demonstrating their commitment to good practice while creating a healthy working environment.

It is important that reasonable adjustments are made to help an employee remain in their role during the period of them trying to manage or recover from a mental health problem. These adjustments can help employees keep well and safe supporting them in continuing to be productive in their work. It will also help employers to retain their employees, and this will reduce the need for recruitment and the cost of training.

When well-managed, employers will find that it will reduce absence and other associated costs.

What reasonable adjustments can we make as an organisation?

There are a range of adjustments that an organisation can consider when supporting their employees. Reasonable adjustments are specific to an individual person. They can cover:

  • any area of work
  • changes to someone’s physical working environment
  • changes to someone’s working arrangements
  • finding a different way to do something
  • adapting the way policies are applied
  • providing equipment, services or support
  • reviewing tasks or deadlines to help someone have a reasonable workload while managing their mental health
  • breaking down work into short term tasks to reduce the complexity of someone’s work and to provide structure to the working day
  • moving someone into a different role or department if their current job has a negative impact on their mental health

How does an employee request reasonable adjustments?

The employee needs to take time to prepare for a discussion with their Line Manager.   The employee might not know what support they need to help them, but it is important to think about how their role effects their mental health and vice versa. The employer needs to share any relevant policies and reassure the employee that the meeting is to find a solution to help them and to agree on a plan.

Once the reasonable adjustment plan has been agreed, the employer should confirm it in writing and provide ongoing support e.g. regular check ins with the employee as well as having a process in place to review the plan.

If you need support regarding wellbeing in your business, please contact us or call us on 01483 362732.