New research reports that poor mental health costs UK employers between £33 and £42 billion a year.
These figures are mainly attributable to sickness absence hits, presenteeism costs, lost productivity and staff turnover. They do not cover the additional costs for employers litigating mental health related claims through the employment tribunals.
In the last month, there have been two new mental health publications – both containing practical guidance which employers should consider:
- ACAS has updated its guidance on Promoting Positive Mental Health at Work outlining the key steps employers should take in their approach to mental health.
- Thriving at Work: the Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers published last week is an independent review and also contains recommendations for how employers can better support their employees.
What does the Thriving at Work review recommend?
One recommendation is that all employers, regardless of size or industry, adopt six ‘mental health core standards’ that lay basic foundations for an approach to workplace mental health. It also details how large employers (more than 500 employees) and the public sector can develop these standards further through a set of ‘mental health enhanced standards’.
Proposed mental health core standards for all employers
Proposed mental health enhanced standards for larger employers and the public sector
- Employers should be encouraged by legislation to report publicly on their workforce’s mental health;
- Industry groups and professional bodies should implement training and support measures on workplace mental health for their employer members;
- The government should implement legislative change to enhance protections for employees with mental health conditions (particularly fluctuating mental health conditions) and clarify the role of employers in providing reasonable adjustments.
The full review can be accessed here (the suggestions on how best to implement the proposed mental health standards are in Annex A). It will be interesting to see how the government responds to the recommendations made in the report.