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The focus of Mental health awareness week in 2019 was body image. Body image can affect us all at any stage of our lives and can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health.

 

Although it is accepted that girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to poor body image, it is an issue that affects both genders, all ages, sexualities and ethnicities.

 

Given the rise in social media and the significant pressures placed on society to ‘look’ a certain way, it is important for employers to ensure their policies are up to date and protect employees as far as possible against discrimination in the workplace.

 

It is vital that mental health is addressed at work for those with existing issues, those at risk and the workforce as a whole. Although awareness of mental health is increasing, people are still reluctant to talk about their feelings due to the stigma associated with mental health and the discrimination that can arise from it.

Most people with ongoing mental health problems meet the definition of ‘disability’ under the Equality Act 2010. This means employees with mental health problems are protected from discrimination and harassment and are entitled to reasonable adjustments to adapt their job to support their needs.

 

What is Considered a Reasonable Adjustment?

 

A disabled person is entitled to request reasonable adjustments to their job or workplace to accommodate their disability. An adjustment is a change to the work environment to allow people with a disability to work safely and productively, removing any barriers to the job that is provided by the effect of their mental health condition.

 

Examples of reasonable adjustments:

  • Changing work patterns to enable an employee to start later or finish earlier due to side effects of medication, mobility difficulties etc.;
  • Providing an employee with a laptop, remote access to software and permission to work from home (depending on the severity of their symptoms);
  • Reallocation of duties;
  • Amending employer’s policy on companions at certain meetings

 

As well as the duty to consider reasonable adjustments on the employer, the Equality Act 2010 also protects employees from harassment due to a protected characteristic. An employer therefore has a duty to address any discriminatory and bullying behaviour relating to mental health just as they would for any other protected characteristic.

 

If you run or manage a business and are unsure on your responsibilities when it comes to mental health in the workplace then please get in touch with Hannah Lockyer, Solicitor in our Employment Law Team on 01256 844888 or email hannah.lockyer@lambbrooks.com.

 

Lamb Brooks are able to provide training sessions at your place of work on mental health or other topics bespoke to your business for your managerial teams. Please get in touch for more details or to book.

 

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.