It is important as an employer you are aware of your obligations to your staff to protect them from discrimination.
Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 is the law that gives employees 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.
ACAS has published a useful document outlining what’s new for employers under the 2010 Equality Act.
To help employers understand the Equality Act in action, Mind's legal unit have summarised some important legal cases where people feel they have been treated unfairly by their employer. View the case studies here.
Since the Equality Act 2010 came into force, it is unlawful for employers to ask questions about health during recruitment.
It is up to the candidate whether they wish to disclose their mental health problem or not. An employer has a duty to ensure that if the candidate does disclose, they are not discriminated against and are treated fairly.
CIPD make some recommendations for employers:
- Distinguish carefully between essential and desirable requirements for the job to allow for flexibility in making adjustments.
- Communicate your commitment to equal opportunities and how your organisation values staff mental health.
- State that reasonable adjustments are available
- Any information on health or disabilities should be kept separate from the job application form
The Equality Act 2010 also puts employers under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustment (in other words changes).
A few examples of changes that might help
- Extending flexible working policies to allow commuting outside of rush hours
- Allowing staff to take time off work for appointments
- Making changes to their working area
- Allowing staff to work at home on occasion if this is helpful
- Temporarily re-allocating tasks they find stressful and difficult
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have useful guidance on workplace adjustments