After the news about the tragedy of the Germanwings crash, there’s an increasing focus on mental health at work. But a new report shows that almost 70% of managers don’t think mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety or depression, warrant time off work. We look at how small businesses can ensure their workplace is as healthy as possible.
In other news, small businesses are calling for a list of workplace pension providers as the deadline for automatic enrolment approaches.
Top news stories
Nearly two-thirds of small and medium-sized firms that have not begun automatic enrolment say they would welcome the publication of a definitive list of providers that accept all firms, regardless of size.
69% of those questioned said they didn't think it warranted time off. 20% said they would worry about the employee’s capability to do their job.
Only 13% of SMEs in the UK relied on the standard High Street bank to finance their business in the last 12 months.
Ed Miliband has said that a Labour government would pass a law that gives employees the right to a regular contract after 12 weeks of working regular hour. Labour have also promised a cut to business rates.
The ONS figures show that with workers producing less than they did in 2007, Britain’s productivity gap with its major economic rivals, such as the US, Germany and France, has widened.
Key dates for your diary
6 April sees another round of new legislation:
- Income Tax (Pay as you earn) (Amendment No.2) Regulations 2015
- Protected Disclosures (Extension of Meaning of Worker) Order 2015
- Pension Schemes Act 2015
- Taxation of Pensions Act 2014
- New level for statutory sick pay
- Changes to income tax allowances and thresholds
- Employer national insurance contributions for workers aged under 21 abolished. (You can read our article about this here)
Mental health in the workplace
Do you have any employees who have mental health issues? That question may be harder to answer than you think, as many people won’t discuss it. Research by Mind shows that:
- 1 in 5 people take a day off work due to stress
- 1 in 10 people have resigned a job due to stress, 1 in 4 have thought about it
- 19% of staff feel they can’t speak to managers about stress at work
The legal requirements
The Equality Act covers mental health issues and states that a person would be considered disabled if “they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.
Under those circumstances, disability discrimination legislation would apply. This protects people from direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
It’s important you know what you and your business must do. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has details.
What you can do to manage mental health issues at work
Although many managers said they didn’t think mental health issues were a good reason for a day off, there is more encouraging news. 56% of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don't feel they have the right training or guidance.
With that in mind, here are some tips:
- Ensure staff have a way to feedback on their workload and working environment. For employees who work independently, make sure you schedule a regular time to catch up with them.
- Make sure deadlines and responsibilities are reasonable and your team has sufficient training to carry out the tasks. Try to involve people in planning work and offer guidance if they look to be taking on too much.
- Make it clear that employees can discuss any issues in confidence.
- If a member of the team seems to be having mental health issues, it’s important to address this. Organisations like Mind and Time to Change offer advice for how to do this.