We launched ‘OMhAS’, our Occupational Mental Health Advisory Services, in 2020 reflecting our passion for helping employers to promote a positive workplace culture and actively address mental health within their organisations.
We work with employers of all sizes and across all sectors assisting them to create a clear strategy for dealing with occupational mental health issues and helping them to support employees with mental ill health conditions, ranging from mild anxiety and depression to more severe conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, so that they may thrive in the workplace.
There is no doubt that organisations which actively address mental health issues in the workplace can experience greater staff productivity; loyalty and morale; staff retention; and reduced sickness absence, all indicators of an organisation’s measure of success.
These days, being able to demonstrate to prospective employees that employee wellbeing, including occupational mental health, is a genuine priority also helps to attract strong and good quality candidates into the organisation.
Mental health conditions are now more prevalent than ever. The CIPD 2020 Health and wellbeing at work survey report concluded that three-fifths of organisations had seen an increase in reported common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, among employees in the past 12 months. The current COVID-19 pandemic has only lead to an increase in this phenomenon.
Here at JMA we are not just highly experienced employment lawyers, but our solicitors, Joanna Atkinson and Jennifer Nicol, are also qualified Mental Health First Aiders (with Mental Health First Aid England) and offer a breadth of experience of dealing with challenging workplace issues, including more complex occupational mental health matters.
Training and educationWe offer bespoke mental health awareness training for employers of all sizes and across all sectors. Our courses are flexible and can be tailored for HR professionals, directors, senior/middle management and employees, including practical workshops and case studies.
Occupational mental health strategyWe can help you devise an effective mental health strategy which addresses the whole lifecycle of the employment relationship, from recruitment through the induction and appraisal processes, your ongoing management of mental health issues, including managing a disability or ill health absence from work, and supporting employees on their return to work after a period of absence.
Managing mental health in the workplace
Often the most costly and complex HR and employment situations arise when problems go undetected or are left unaddressed. We can help you spot the risks and resolve the problems that can develop before they reach crisis point by supporting you through the difficult conversations and internal processes that may be required.
The value of appropriate and confident management of mental health issues in the workplace cannot be underestimated. CIPD research carried out in 2018 found that management style is the second main cause of work-related stress, showing that how managers go about their role has a direct impact on employee’s mental wellbeing.
Complimentary ServicesThere will be times when we will recommend that you seek the support of a complimentary service alongside the advice that we can offer. This may be involve counselling, mentoring, mediation or seeking a specialist medical assessment. We work with a wide range of professionals and will be able to introduce you to the most appropriate person/organisation and help with any formal employee referral that may be required.
Occupational mental health legal advice
Many mental health conditions which have a substantial and long-term effect (for at least 12 months) on the individual’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day tasks may qualify as a disability under the disability discrimination provisions in the Equality Act 2010, therefore providing the employee with protection. If an employee has a disability, as the employer you have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their needs. The cost of getting it wrong can lead to substantial and uncapped compensation as well as reputational damage.
However, it’s not just about staying on the right side of the law, providing support to employees with mental health conditions can visibly lead to increased productivity; an improvement in staff retention; and reduced sickness absence. In the long run obtaining prompt advice will pay off.
Feedback from our clients
I have worked with Joanna for a number of years… I have always received extremely clear, concise and pragmatic legal advice. Joanna is professional and creative with a great sensitivity to the situation and cultural context. Her guidance and direction is second to none..
Thank you very much for your prompt and efficient work on this negotiation but most of all for communicating the various issues to me in such an understandable and most of all friendly way.