ACAS guidance on reasonable adjustments for mental health
Recently, ACAS released new guidance on reasonable adjustments at work for employees with mental health conditions. The guidance has been designed to support employers in creating an inclusive and supportive workplace for individuals with mental health conditions, and to ensure that they receive the necessary support to perform their job effectively.
The guidance emphasises the importance for employers to understand and recognise mental health conditions in the workplace.
This includes understanding the impact that mental health conditions can have on an individual’s ability to perform their job, as well as recognising the importance of providing appropriate support and accommodations to enable them to do so.
What is a reasonable adjustment?
Reasonable adjustments are alterations made by an employer to an employee’s work arrangements with the purpose of eliminating or reducing a disadvantage faced by an employee due to a disability.
What is a disability?
The law sets out that a disability is either a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term effect on a person’s ability to perform normal day-to-day activities.
What is important to note here is that those who struggle with their mental health are likely to be considered as satisfying the definition of someone with a disability if their impairment is long term and effects their ability to carry out normal tasks. Furthermore, they do not need to be diagnosed with a particular mental health condition to meet the criteria.
ACAS recommends that making reasonable adjustments at work for those with mental health can help them stay in work while they recover from or to help them manage their condition.
ACAS also recommends that making reasonable adjustments can help reduce sickness absence and any costs associated (for example arranging cover or an occupational health report) as well as creating a healthy work culture and building mental health awareness in the workplace.
One of the key recommendations in the guidance from ACAS is that employers have a policy on reasonable adjustments for mental health in the workplace. ACAS suggest that any policy on the subject should outline the steps that will be taken to support employees with mental health conditions, including the provision of reasonable adjustments. The policy should also provide guidance on how to identify and respond to mental health concerns, as well as providing support for employees who are experiencing mental health issues for example, signposting them to internal and external support that may be available.
The guidance also highlights the importance of involving employees in the process of identifying and implementing reasonable adjustments for mental health. This includes discussing with employees what support they need to perform their job effectively and working collaboratively to find appropriate solutions. This approach not only ensures that employees receive the support they need, but also helps to foster a culture of openness and understanding around mental health issues.
In addition, the guidance recommends that employers provide training for managers and other staff on mental health awareness and support. This can help to break down stigma and increase understanding of mental health conditions, as well as providing practical guidance on how to support employees who are experiencing mental health issues at work.
In closing, the guidance from ACAS provides a valuable resource for employers on how to create a supportive and inclusive workplace for individuals with mental health conditions. By recognising the importance of reasonable adjustments and providing appropriate support, employers can help to ensure that all employees are able to perform their job effectively, regardless of any mental health conditions they may have.
It is important to note that even if your business does not have a policy on reasonable adjustments for mental health, it is important that you take great care when dealing with an employee who has a condition that would meet the criteria of a disability because employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate them at work. Failing to implement reasonable adjustments could lead to a claim for unlawful discrimination.
You can read the full guidance from ACAS here: https://www.acas.org.uk/reasonable-adjustments-for-mental-health
If you wish to discuss this topic in further detail or have a potential issue regarding an employee with a disability and are unsure about how to manage it, please feel free to contact any member of the team on 01983 897003.