What is it?
At the tail end of 2018, the government introduced a framework to support employers to report information on:
• the number of employees they employ who consider themselves to have a disability or mental health issue; and
• what they are doing to promote a more inclusive workplace.
The framework was introduced on the back of a review by Stephenson and Farmer – Thriving at Work – which reported that around £33bn – £42bn is lost each year due to poor mental health.
Recognising and dealing effectively with employment matters associated with disability and mental health are crucial in helping companies reduce these costs and promote a better working environment for staff who suffer from physical or mental impairment.
How does it work?
The government has issued some guidance on voluntary reporting. It is aimed at employers with more than 250 employees but can also be used by smaller organisations that are looking to drive changes in culture more widely.
The framework suggests that employers report on the percentage of employees within their organisation who consider themselves to have a disability or mental health issue. It also encourages employers to provide a narrative setting out what steps they are taking aimed at recruiting and retaining people who have a disability.
The guidance includes information on what to ask employees when trying to establish who consider themselves to be disabled. It also recommends that organisations report on the output of staff surveys that provide measures of employee wellbeing. It includes examples of additional questions which employers might want to include in such surveys.
The guidance can be found here.
What are the benefits?
Besides the obvious benefits already mentioned which relate to costs, the framework should allow employers to:
• improve employee engagement and retention;
• improve productivity and performance;
• access a wider talent pool; and
• create a culture which enables staff to disclose any disability or mental health issue without fear of it impacting upon their career.
It should also be noted that the government intends to extend the current gender pay gap reporting framework to include reporting on ethnic minority pay. With this trend, employers may be well ahead of the legislative curve if they start to think now about reporting on disability and mental health in a similar way, thereby reducing the burden on HR in the future if the government decides to make such reporting mandatory.