Employee Welfare, Development & Support, Mental Health at Work image

Employee Welfare & Support

Organisations have a legal duty of care towards their employees. Finding confidential professional support for struggling employees in a timely manner helps you to satisfy your ethical and legal obligations to your employees, and can be the difference between keeping and losing an employee.

Much of the law relating to employee wellbeing is enshrined in The Equality Act 2010 which protects people from unfair treatment and discrimination at work if they have certain ‘protected characteristics’. These include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and mental illness.

A disability is any physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. You can still be viewed as having a disability even if your condition varies – i.e. it improves but is likely to relapse. Many employers do not realise the protection afforded by the Act also extends to the carers of people with a disability or mental illness.  

As long as an employer is (or can reasonably be expected to be), aware of a disability they are required by law to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to address unfairness/discrimination. We can help with this. In the case of mental health this might include providing professional counselling and support, adopting flexible working practices, or role/job redesign.  

Our Occupational psychologists are also qualified to carry out independent occupational stress assessments. These can be carried out at an individual level to support a person whilst they are still at work, or as part of a planned return to work after a period of leave due to ill health.

Our assessments are independent. This means we complete the assessment report based only on the evidence which emerges from the assessment process itself. We do not set out to support or disprove any particular point of view.

An occupational stress assessment can be damaging to an individual if not carried out sensitively, and to the highest ethical standards and level of professional competence. We typically use a combination of structured questionnaire and detailed feedback interview. The assessment report typically deals with how the subject feels about their job, their symptoms of stress, how they feel and behave normally when not under stress, how they interpret events around them, the sources of stress in their job and how they cope with the sources of stress they experience.

Our expertise in eliciting the demands of specific job roles means we can produce a focused report which considers the unique demands of a person’s job and workplace, and a realistic appraisal of their current/future fitness for work. We only carry out assessments under the instruction of the employing organisation, or a relevant third party organisation such as an insurance company or solicitor, and with the informed consent of the person involved. We do not carry out occupational stress assessments at the request of the individual subjects themselves.

A wider organisational stress audit involves assessing the sources of occupational stress across your organisation and the effect they are having on your staff. We do not use ‘off-the-shelf’ surveys since each person’s perceived sources of occupational stress is unique. Simply using a pre-existing measurement tool restricts the factors measured to what the tool designers consider to be sources of stress, rather than what the employees consider to be sources of stress. Consequently the results may have little value.

Instead we use an Interpretative Phenomenological Approach. This involves developing a bespoke survey, based on focussed interviews with staff, to complete the audit. After the audit we make recommendations for remedial action based on the results.

At the request of an organisation or employer, we can work with employees within the environment of a safe one-to-one relationship to :

  • assess their fitness to work
  • make recommendations regarding modifying their job or work environment
  • work with them to develop and apply strategies to support them remaining in/returning to work
  • support them during a mental health episode whilst still working
  • support them in fulfilling their own practical/legal responsibilities toward their employer

This process is sensitively delivered and non-adversarial in nature, and can be carried out in the persons own home, or at work. If they wish, the person may choose to have a third party present during the assessment. We always bring a chaperone when meeting a client at their home address.

We can also work with your organisation to promote good mental health practices in the workplace. This can include:

  • advising on procedure and practice – including non-discriminatory selection and recruitment best practice
  • helping to identify wider organisational risk factors which can impact employees’ mental health
  • assessing and supporting fitness to work on a case-by-case basis

We also provide training in handling mental health issues at work :

  • on/off site workshops on mental health management – including your practical, legal & procedural obligations towards employees
  • bespoke training for staff and managers in dealing with, and supporting, people who have mental health issues in the workplace
  • psychosocial well-being/resilience training