Employment: Mental Health

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 24th June 2019.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what plans she has to strengthen protections for mental health at work under health and safety legislation.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

In October 2017, the Prime Minister welcomed and accepted the recommendations of the Thriving at Work: The Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers. This recognised that employers should develop a comprehensive approach to managing mental health that includes implementing activity on preventing mental ill health caused by work, promoting good mental health in the workplace and supporting individuals who experience poor mental health. Actions to implement this comprehensive approach are described within the mental health standards developed by the reviewers and accepted by Government.

Existing duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 contribute by requiring employers to put in place measures to prevent causes of work-related mental ill health. Specifically, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to undertake a risk assessment and act on that assessment by removing or putting in place reasonable steps to control the causes of work-related mental ill health. Additionally, under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, employers have a responsibility to consider the mental health needs of their staff as part of their ‘first aid needs assessment’ and decide on what support is necessary. This assessment enables employers to put in place measures that will directly respond to their employee needs and allows businesses flexibility where those needs may change. Supporting individuals in distress until professional help arrives is an important feature of any first aid event regardless of its nature. It is a key component in the first aid syllabus contained in the regulations and meets the NHS recommended approach for assisting an individual who is experiencing a mental health crisis.

Government is committed to working with key stakeholders, public, private and voluntary sectors to ensure that employers of all sizes implement the mental health standards, comply with their legal duties and realise the benefit of healthy inclusive workplaces.

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