New Mental Health Adjustments pledge


Nine organisations, including EDF Energy and the manufacturing umbrella body EEF have committed to adopting new Government guidance into their HR procedures, which will help organisations manage employees with mental health conditions in the best way possible.

The organisations have signed up to a new Public Health Responsibility Deal pledge, Mental Health Adjustments, launched today by Health Minister Lord Howe at the Work Foundation. The pledge has been developed by the Responsibility Deal health at work network, chaired by Dame Carol Black.

Organisations signing up to the new pledge also include dairy company Roddas, The Work Foundation, contract caterer Bartlett Mitchell, The Charity for Civil Servants as well as the Centre for Mental Health, Christie NHS Foundation Trust and the Department of Health.

These first signatories have committed to: ‘embed the principles of the Mental Health Workplace Adjustments Guide within HR procedures to ensure that people with mental health conditions are managed at work in the best way possible with reasonable flexibilities and workplace adjustments.’

Speaking at the launch, Health Minister Lord Howe said:

“A good working environment is crucial for our wellbeing – and it can help aid the recovery of mental health conditions. However, stigma and lack of understanding means many remain unemployed or underutilised. This Responsibility Deal pledge will help employers think through the simple steps they can make to help.”

Dame Carol Black, Chair of the Responsibility Deal health at work network, said:

“At any time, one in six adults will be experiencing a mental health condition.  Most of these people are of working age and are in employment.  Mental health conditions cost UK businesses £8.4 billion in sickness absence and a further £15.1 billion in lost productivity . For business, economic and moral reasons, it is therefore important that employers play their part in supporting people with such conditions to retain their jobs, and when they are absent in enabling them to return to work as soon as they can.

“Thoughtful, well informed management in respect of employees’ mental and physical health can produce real benefits.  Besides reduced sickness absence those benefits include better staff engagement, improved productivity, and reduced staff turnover. Making small workplace adjustments to enable an employee to continue doing their job can be more rewarding and far less expensive than the cost of recruiting and training a new employee.”

The 2010 Equality Act outlines an employer’s duty to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities, including mental health conditions, to help them gain or keep employment. Most adjustments cost nothing and according to The Equality and Human Rights Commission, the average cost is just £75.

The pledge and guidance was developed by a group, lead by Professor Stephen Bevan of the Work Foundation, and including several other key organisations, including the Centre for Mental Health, Mind, JobCentre Plus, Leicester Fit for Work Service, NHS Confederation, Civil Service Benevolence Fund, Prospect – as well as the companies PwC, GSK, EDF Energy and EEF.

The group consulted widely with key organisations, including charities such as MIND, professional associations such as the Royal College of Psychiatrists and large companies with experience in this area, such as BT.

Stephen Bevan, Director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at the Work Foundation said:

“Employers should be aware that everyone’s experience of mental ill health is different – so two people with a diagnosis of depression may have very different symptoms and need different adjustments when returning to work. This may seem complex, but often the employee themselves will be the expert on their condition and know their own support needs.”

“Employers need to have an open, honest and practical conversation with the person about how their mental health condition impacts their work and what adjustments can be made. It’s important to focus on what the person can do – not what they can’t.”

Evidence has shown that good work is beneficial for mental health and well-being and that – for people with a mental health condition – work can aid recovery. However, stigma and lack of understanding, as well as lack of knowledge about how to support people in the workplace, means that a large number of people with mental health conditions remain unemployed or underutilised.

The guidance, developed as part of the pledge, is intended to help employers think through the kinds of adjustments at work which they can make for people with mental health conditions. They include practical advice and links to other resources which might help them to support job retention and return to work.

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