Employer duty of care for mental health at work
(3 must know laws)
As HR managers, you play a pivotal role in shaping the culture and practices within your organisation, with a profound impact on the mental health of your workforce.
While it’s true that the legal frameworks surrounding employer duty of care and mental health at work in the UK may be deemed outdated, this should by no means be a reason to not prioritise the mental wellbeing of your employees.
In an era where the lines between work and personal life blur, and the pressures of the modern workplace continue to mount, there is a growing need to reassess our understanding of duty of care and embrace a more compassionate approach.
- What is an employer’s legal responsibilities regarding mental health?
- What is employer duty of care?
- What is the Equality Act 2010?
- What is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974?
- Understanding your legal responsibilities and employer duty of care
- How can Stribe support your employee wellbeing and employer duty of care?
What is an employer’s legal responsibilities regarding mental health?
Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health and employment law, there is no specific mental health at work act.
However, employers in the UK are required to adhere to the Equality Act 2010 and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and very importantly – you have a legal responsibility known as employer duty of care.
What is employer duty of care?
Employer duty of care means protecting the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of employees and others within the workplace.
To meet your duty of care as an employer, it is essential to take proactive (not just reactive) steps to assess and support each employee’s wellbeing.
What is the Equality Act 2010?
The Equality Act 2010 is a piece of UK legislation designed to promote fairness, eliminate discrimination, and ensure equal opportunities for all.
It covers various aspects of life, including employment, education, and access to goods and services. This law provides protection and support to individuals who may face discrimination due to characteristics such as age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Its purpose is to create a more inclusive and equitable society, where everyone has the chance to participate and thrive without facing unjust obstacles or biases. It’s an essential legal framework that HR managers should be familiar with to ensure that their workplaces are diverse, inclusive, and free from discrimination.
What is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974?
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 is a cornerstone of workplace safety in the UK and is crucial for HR managers to understand and implement to protect the welfare of their employees. It focuses on safeguarding the health, safety, and wellbeing of employees (and the general public) within and around workplaces.
It sets out a comprehensive framework for employers and employees to manage and control risks related to work activities. This act places a legal duty on employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees by providing safe working conditions, training, and necessary safety measures.
Understanding your legal responsibilities and employer duty of care
When it comes to understanding the legal frameworks your duty of care as an employer, ACAS breaks it down into three key parts that relate to wellbeing and mental health.
- Making sure the work environment is safe
Ensuring a safe working environment as part of employer duty of care means taking steps to make sure that where your employees work is free from harm or risks. This includes making sure there are no dangerous hazards and providing necessary safety measures.
- Protecting staff from discrimination
Protecting staff from discrimination as part of employer duty of care means ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and respectfully, regardless of their background or personal characteristics.
It involves creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and included, free from any unfair treatment, prejudice, or bias. This is paramount for the emotional and mental wellbeing of your staff, making them feel safe and supported in their work environment.
- Carrying out risk assessments
As an employer you have a legal duty to identify any risks to your employees’ health – including work-related stress – which is the leading cause of stress to adults in the UK.
Carrying out risk assessments as part of employer duty of care means carefully looking at your workplace to identify any potential dangers that could harm your employees (mentally or physically). It’s about being proactive and taking steps to prevent harm by understanding and addressing these risks. You can find more information about carrying out risk assessments on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
How can Stribe support your employee wellbeing and employer duty of care?
Stribe is an employee engagement platform designed to make teams happier, by harnessing your employees’ voice.
By using pulse surveys, employee recognition, anonymous messaging, in-depth reporting and other clever tools, Stribe empowers employees to share their thoughts, concerns, and feedback – creating a culture for open communication. This not only allows you to gain valuable insights into the wellbeing of your teams, but also demonstrates a commitment to actively listening and responding to their needs.
With Stribe, you can create a work environment that supports mental and emotional wellbeing while showing genuine care for your employees’ welfare.