Are you confident in providing reasonable adjustments to support employees with mental health conditions? Do you have guidance and processes in place for employees to request reasonable adjustments for mental health conditions? If not, don’t worry! We have put together some guidance and top tips to help you create a workplace that is inclusive and supportive for those with mental health conditions.

Mental Health Conditions and Disabilities

Did you know that according to the Mental Health Foundation, 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions?

In addition, the House of Commons Library has found that 32% of disabled people reported having a disability related to mental health.

But what do we mean by disability?

Mental health conditions are considered a disability when they are long term (12 months plus) and have a significant impact on a person’s ability to carry out day to day tasks.

Conditions can include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar.

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for those with a disability.

What are ‘reasonable adjustments’?

Where someone meets the definition of a disabled person in the Equality Act 2010, you are required to make reasonable adjustments when the following applies:

– An employee is disadvantaged by something because of their disability;

– It’s reasonable to make the changes in order to avoid the disadvantage, and;

– The employer knows, or should reasonably be expected to know, about the employee’s disability and the disadvantage suffered because of it.

Employers are only required to make adjustments that are reasonable. What is considered reasonable can vary and will depend on things like:

– The disability;

– The size and resources of the employer;

– How practicable the changes are;

– If the change would overcome the disadvantage the employee experiences;

– If the change is what’s needed or is more than necessary.

It doesn’t matter how big or small a company is and how many hours the employee works. A company still has a duty to make adjustments, if they’re reasonable.

What reasonable adjustments could you make?

Some examples you might consider:

– Reviewing deadlines, breaking down work into short term tasks to reduce the complexity of someone’s work, or reducing areas of the role that cause more stress, such as phone calls or customer-facing work.

– Agreeing a preferred communication method to help reduce anxiety – avoiding those spontaneous phone calls!

– Modifying supervision to provide regular check-ins and an opportunity to prioritise workload.

– Allowing someone to work from home to manage distractions.

– Allocating additional breaks or reducing hours to give someone more time to relax and decompress.

– Relocating someone’s workspace to a quieter area to reduce sensory demands.

– Being flexible with sickness absence policies so that someone is not disadvantaged by taking absence when they are unwell.

The Process

Having a clear process and guidelines to manage reasonable adjustments for mental health can benefit the business and employees. So, it’s important to:

– Have clear and accessible guidance on how employees can request reasonable adjustments.

– Have a template letter/form available so employees can put their request in writing.

– Meet with the employee to discuss their request and consider whether it is reasonable for the adjustments to be made. Consider whether it might be appropriate to ask for a GP report, or to ask for advice from an Occupational Health practitioner. If any requests can’t be accommodated, think of some alternatives that might help instead.

– Provide a response to the employee in writing and record any reasonable adjustments made.

– Set a regular meeting to review the adjustments to ensure they are still working for the employee and business.

Top Tips

Mental health disabilities can be more difficult to manage because they can be hidden and display themselves differently in different people, as well as often proving more difficult to talk about. Here are some of our top tips for managing mental health in your business:

– Not everyone recognises their mental health condition as a disability, but this doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be considered one! Bear in mind that disability discrimination can also apply to those with mental health conditions.

– Mental health problems can happen suddenly because of a specific life event or build up gradually over time. Continually meet with your employees regularly to pick up on any signs that they may be struggling.

– Every individual and role are different and mental health can also fluctuate over time, don’t fall into the trap of using a one size fits all approach. What works for an employee now might not work in the future – be prepared to switch things up!

– Encourage employees at all levels of the business to be open about mental health to create a culture where everyone feels comfortable talking about their experiences.

– Consult the experts! Deciding on the appropriate reasonable adjustments for mental health conditions can be challenging, contact us or consider the support of Occupational Health or obtaining a GP report if you are struggling to find reasonable adjustments that work.

– ‘Reasonable’ adjustments – the clue is in the name! Remember adjustments need to be reasonable for the business. You don’t have to agree to everything an employee requests. The important thing is to consider it and provide clear reasons and an alternative if any requests can’t be met.

Download our FREE helpful guide

Ready to download our handy guide on Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health? Click here for an instant download and empower your workplace with the knowledge you need.

How Hallidays HR can help

For expert guidance on reasonable adjustments for mental health and all the templates and letters you need to manage the process fairly and consistently, please get in touch with a member of the Hallidays HR team.

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidayshr.co.uk. And of course, visit our LinkedIn page.