Friday, 15 September 2023 15:21

Extending Employer Responsibilities

This week, the Government has launched its new national suicide prevention strategy, through which it pledges to reduce the number of suicides in England in two and a half years. The five year strategy, which also aims to improve support for those bereaved by suicide and for people who have self-harmed, was announced after an estimated 5275 deaths by suicide were registered in 2022.

The UK Government has embarked on several initiatives focused on improving the holistic well-being of its citizens. From earlier mental health programmes to the broader ambition of promoting healthier lifestyles, the government's dedication to creating a resilient, content, and prosperous society is evident.

One of the action points laid out in the Suicide Prevention Strategy is that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will look for opportunities to improve the government’s role in supporting employers to improve the support they provide for the mental wellbeing of themselves and their employees. Options include the revision of first-aid guidance to bring parity to managing the risks of mental and physical health in the workplace.

Indeed, later this year, the second reading of the Mental Health First Aid bill will be heard in the house of commons which will make it a legal requirement for employers to appoint a nominated Mental Health First Aider.

Another bill that will receive it’s second reading in the coming months is the Bullying and Respect at Work Bill. Bullying is seen as one of the main drivers for suicide and in order for the government to achieve their pledge, far more stringent measures to tackle workplace bullying will be laid at the door of employers.

Historically, matters of bullying and harassment in the workplace were treated with a degree of scepticism or simply passed off as banter, often resulting in victims feeling unheard or afraid to come forward. Recognising the detrimental impact of such behaviour, not only on individual victims but also on the broader workplace environment and morale, the proposed bill is designed to make employers more accountable.

The central concept of the bill is the idea that employers should be culpable for instances of bullying and harassment within their institutions. The result will be workplaces that are not only more respectful and inclusive but also more productive and healthy.

To meet the requirements of the bill, employers will have to implement stricter anti-bullying policies, offer training programmes to employees, and actively work on fostering a culture where every individual feels valued, safe, and heard. Employers will also need to ensure that they have clear reporting mechanisms in place and that managers are able and equipped to follow them.

We may also see a task force put into place who are granted powers to close down organisations where a toxic workplace environment exists. Whilst this may seem extreme, it is a testament to just how seriously the government is taking the matter.

Before we jump to accusations of a ‘Nanny State’, let’s not lose sight of the fact that a proactive approach to combat bullying not only protects employees but also can lead to numerous benefits for the organisation. A positive, inclusive environment can lead to increased productivity, higher employee retention rates, and a stronger company reputation and brand.

Initiatives concerning mental health and workplace bullying and harassment form just a part of the UK Government's broader strategy to improve the overall wellbeing of the nation. Several other programmes aim to address other issues and they have launched campaigns to promote physical activity and healthier eating habits, thereby attempting to tackle the rising cases of obesity and lifestyle-related illnesses.

It may be only a matter of time before employers are expected to take a role in supporting these areas too as the Government strives to improve the overall physical and mental health of the nation.

In the meantime, talk to us about our Preventing Bullying and Harassment at work training, the first step to promoting an inclusive and welcoming workplace environment to get you ahead of the competition in delivering your employer responsibilities. Cal us on 01452 331331 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 480 times Last modified on Friday, 15 September 2023 15:28


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.