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Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace

The term ‘Mental Health’ includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. According to the NHS, one person in four will be affected by a mental or neurological illness at some point in their life.

Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year.

The working environment can, without doubt, exacerbate mental ill health; reported causes include poor management, unreasonable demands and deadlines, unfair pay, bullying, harassment and internal politics.

Why managing health and wellbeing works for business

There are several drivers for why health and wellbeing should be a top priority for your business. These are as follows:

  • Legal
  • Business


Your legal responsibilities are outlined in the following legislation:

Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), duty to take measures to identify and control risk.

Management of Health and Safety Regulations (1999), assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities.

The Equality Act (2010), duty to make reasonable adjustments in order not to discriminate against someone with a disability.

Whether or not an employee has a mental health problem, an employer has a duty of care to their employees’ physical and mental health under health and safety legislation. Employers have a duty to assess the risks arising from hazards at work, including work-related mental health problems e.g. someone becoming very stressed due to an increased workload.


Research tells us that lack of attention to health and wellbeing of staff can negatively impact the business as follows:

  • Employee commitment to work
  • Accidents or mistakes caused by human errors
  • Staff turnover and intention to leave
  • Staff recruitment and retention
  • Staff performance and productivity
  • Attendance levels
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Organisational image and reputation
  • Potential litigation

What steps can you take as an employer?

By providing your staff with the skills that they need to engage with employees regarding mental health you can help to improve the relationship between the two and promote open communication. Mental health awareness, stress management and developing resilience training can also help.

As the majority of many peoples’ lives are spent at work, it is imperative that employers place a focus on mental health in the workplace now.

What are your rights as an employee if you feel you have been treated unfairly because mental health problem?

The Equality Act 2010 is the law that gives you the right to challenge discrimination. It protects people from being discriminated against because of certain protected characteristics, such as gender, age or disability. Mental health falls under the category of disability. To get protection under the Equality Act, you have to show that your mental health problem is a disability (that it has a substantial, adverse, and long term effect on your normal day-to-day activities). The law covers you during recruitment, employment and if you are being dismissed for any reason, including redundancy. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to work practices, and provide other aids and adaptations, for disabled employees.

If you would like further advice in relation to the above or any other HR matter contact us at Cerno HR:

Jabeen Tahir HR Consultant

Aisha Beg- HR Consultant


Cerno HR

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