Media Release: Employer’s duty of care extends to mental health, say solicitors

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YOU may not be able to see it but, for a growing number of individuals, mental health related illness can be debilitating and just as serious as any physical illness.

Miller Hendry’s employment law specialist, Alan Matthew, is warning local employers that a recent ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal changes the landscape of an employer’s responsibility when it comes to the responding to the health needs of their team.

He commented: “Employees suffering from depression caused by work-related stress could now ask their employers to pay for psychiatric counselling, following a recent ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. It’s a judgement that should signal warning bells for employers to make sure they are responding appropriately to mental health issues.”

The decision followed a claim brought by Lynda Butcher, an ex finance and reception manager.

Says a spokesperson: “The 1995 Act provides that ‘a person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and a long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day to day activities’ and reasonable job-related adjustments include ‘giving, or arranging for, training or mentoring whether for the disabled person or any other person’.”

Alan commented: “This shouldn’t be interpreted as requiring employers to fund private health care. The issue was not the payment of private medical treatment in general, but payment for a specific form of support to enable Mrs Butcher to return to work and to be able to cope with the difficulties she had been experiencing.

“It’s definitely worth revisiting how employee reviews are handled if there is any question of work-related stress affecting performance.”


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Contact: Tricia Fox
Phone: 01738658187