Tuesday, 26 March 2024 10:03

Mental Health & Employment Law

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently updated its ‘L74 – Guidance on The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981’. The HSE’s principal change in the document is to “emphasis employers’ responsibilities to take account of employee’s mental health in their first-aid needs assessment”.
Within the updated L74 document, the HSE advise that “it may be helpful to have people trained to identify and understand mental ill health symptoms who are able to support someone who is experiencing a mental health issue.”.

Equally, the HSE recommends that when assessing how much first aid provision and employer has to make depending on the hazards and risks of each workplace, the provision should now be related to both physical and mental health.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers have a “duty of care” to their employees. This means that employers must take all reasonable steps to support their employees health, safety and wellbeing at work. According to ACAS, this includes:

  • Employers making sure the working environment is safe
  • Protecting staff from discrimination
  • Carrying out risk assessment

According to the Equality Act, someone with poor mental health can be considered disabled if poor mental health has a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on their life i.e. they regularly cannot focus on a task. Moreover, if poor mental health lasts or is expected to last for at least a year. Finally, if it affects their ability to complete their normal day-to-day activities.

Under this law, employers must not discriminate against them because of their disability and must make reasonable adjustments.

According to Mind, one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point in their life. Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. In the UK, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems. Work can aggravate pre-existing conditions and problems at work can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse. Employers have a legal responsibility to help their employers whether work is causing the issue or aggravating it. Where a risk is identified, reasonable steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it.

The UK government’s 'Thriving at Work Report' set out ‘Core Standards’ that all employers can and should put in place. These include:

  • Produce, implement and communication a mental health at work plan
  • Develop mental health awareness among employees
  • Encourage open communication about mental health
  • Provide employees with good working conditions ensuring they have a healthy work life balance
  • Promote effective management to ensure all employees have regular conversations with their line managers
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing

Returning back to the new guidance from the HSE, building a team of Mental Health First Aiders is the perfect place to start. Including Mental Health First Aiders in your business' First Aid needs assessments ensures that you have people trained to identify and understand mental ill health symptoms to support someone who is experiencing a mental health issue. Click here to take a look at our mental health training and how it can support your team.

We are here specifically to support employers with HR & Employment Law support and with training business owners, managers, and their teams. Start a conversation with us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 592 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 March 2024 10:13


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.

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