New ACAS Guidance: Reasonable Adjustments For Mental Health
Key Contact: Claire Knowles
Author: Swyn Llyr
ACAS has recently launched new guidance to support both employers and employees on reasonable adjustments for mental health at work.
The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term (for at least 12 months) adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
As outlined by ACAS, mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and behave. An employee may not acknowledge their mental health condition as a disability, but it is important that you as an employer remain alert that it could be. This can be challenging for you because if an employee does not consider themselves to be disabled, it can be hard for you to make changes and support them in the workplace. Nonetheless, you must continue to be observant and if you suspect that an individual may be struggling with a mental health problem, reasonable enquiries should be made as to what, if any, problems they may have.
What is advised by ACAS?
In summary, the ACAS guidance offers:
- Practical solutions on responding to reasonable adjustments requests including reviewing your policies relating to mental health, absence and reasonable adjustments to ensure that it is clear what is expected of you and your employee. ACAS recommends that you put yourself in your employee’s position and think about what is going on for them and what they might need to support their mental health at work.
- Support on what to think about before responding to a request for reasonable adjustments and what might the impact of these adjustments be on their ability to do the job to a satisfactory level and on the rest of the workforce.
- Suggestions on agreeing a plan with your employee to discuss reasonable adjustments, and put in place ongoing support and a process to review on a regular basis. ACAS advises that many employees might not feel ready to decide what adjustments to suggest at work, thus taking a flexible approach, regularly monitoring and reviewing what works, and what does not, is helpful for both you and the employee.
- The use of trial periods to monitor reasonable adjustments once they’re in place. A record should be kept of any changes made over time, as agreeing a trial period may be the best solution to adapt adjustments to work effectively for the affected employee.
- Recommendations as to how to support someone to access the support they need. You may find it difficult to discuss mental health with your staff, but ACAS advises how you could lead the conversation by making it clear that employees should look after themselves, checking if they have accessed support available through work, and reassuring them that you will try to support them in accessing reasonable adjustments.
It is important that equal opportunities are promoted amongst the workforce, and that you remain vigilant and sensitive to a variety of individuals and potential hidden disability. Refrain from making assumptions regarding disability status, and do not hesitate to reach out to the Employment Team at Acuity Law if you require any further guidance on this topic.
Click HERE for the ACAS guidance.
If you would like any help or assistance with the topics covered in this article, please contact the Acuity Employment team.