Home Mental Health & Well-Being Legal Expert Reveals the Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

Legal Expert Reveals the Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 2 minutes

With workplace absences hitting record highs and employees averaging 7.8 sick days per year, the spotlight on mental health in the workplace has never been more critical. Amid rising cost of living pressures and the increasing mental strain on employees, employers must prioritise the well-being of their workforce to maintain operational efficiency and staff morale.

The problem of mental health in the workplace is extensive. 1 in 7 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9%). Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

Legal experts at Weightmans provide essential guidance on how employers can tackle this pressing issue:

Enhancing employee well-being to boost retention

The link between employee well-being and workplace attendance is undeniable. As Ben Daniel, partner and head of EPI at Weightmans, notes, “The mental health of many employees has suffered, and workplace absences have increased.” He emphasises the necessity for employers to actively engage in measures that not only address but also preempt issues related to workplace stress and mental health. Implementing such measures not only improves overall productivity but also enhances employee satisfaction and retention.

Strategic approaches to managing workplace absences

  1. Prioritise mental health initiatives: Recognising stress as a significant contributor to employee absences, it’s crucial for employers to implement strategies that focus on mental health. This includes offering access to mental health resources, providing training for managers on mental health awareness, and establishing a supportive culture that encourages open dialogue about mental health issues.
  2. Value and respect employees: Making employees feel valued is a potent deterrent against unnecessary sick leaves. Clear communication regarding the significance of each role and how it contributes to the organisation’s objectives can motivate employees and reduce absenteeism. Regular feedback and recognition also play a critical role in making employees feel appreciated.
  3. Maintain accurate records: Accurate documentation of sick leaves is vital for managing absences effectively. Compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is crucial when handling sensitive personal data related to health. This data helps in understanding patterns and addressing them proactively.
  4. Conduct return-to-work interviews: These interviews are essential for reconnecting with the employees post-absence and understanding any underlying issues they might be facing. A sympathetic approach during these interviews fosters trust and can be critical in identifying and mitigating factors contributing to the absences.

Legal perspectives on employer responsibilities

From a legal standpoint, employers have a duty to ensure a healthy working environment. This involves understanding the pressures employees face, both in and out of work, and adapting workplace policies to accommodate these challenges.

Ben Daniel highlights that “finding ways to enhance your workplace flexibility can also help with the negative impacts of the cost of living on your employees.” Such flexibility might include remote working options, flexible hours, or support for mental health days, which can significantly alleviate stress among employees.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd