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Employers warned on responsibilities for employee mental health

Employers warned on responsibilities for employee mental health
Credit: Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Three in five business leaders are unsure of their responsibilities on mental health, but failing to act properly could lead to claims down the line, according to risk management firm Gallagher.

A December survey of 1,000 business leaders found 58 per cent did not feel they knew what their responsibilities were with regards to the mental health of their employees.

According to the firm, employers are responsible for the health and safety of employees under the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations, including their mental health and stress, even when they are not working on company premises.

However, its research found three in 10 business leaders (31 per cent) were unaware of this.

Alistair Dornan, director of organisational wellbeing at Gallagher, said: “Businesses cannot afford to overlook the mental wellbeing, or health and safety generally, of their employees.

“Not only does it make good business sense to take action to protect employees’ health and mental wellbeing, but employers may also find themselves liable, and at risk of a claim being brought against them, if it can be proved they’ve been negligent.”

According to the firm’s separate survey of 2,000 workers, two in five (40 per cent) had not received any mental health support from their employer.

One in seven of those who were working from home (15 per cent) said their mental health had suffered, due to stress from home working.

Additionally, one in 10 (9 per cent) said working from home had led to increased drinking and sleep problems.

Dan Crook, protection sales director at Canada Life, said: “Employers’ people management plans should also be focused on supporting their employees’ mental wellbeing, especially as we transition through more changes in working arrangements and gradually readjust to working in the office.

“Mental health and wellbeing support is now commonplace within group protection schemes and employers should help employees access and utilise such support systems.”

Research from Canada Life in January found over half (54 per cent) of people working from home wanted their employer to introduce mental wellness days.

The findings from Gallagher also come after a survey of 500 advisers by the Personal Finance Society found three in five had suffered depression, anxiety, emotional distress or any other mental health condition during the pandemic.

The professional body launched a wellbeing hub this month to support advisers on mental and physical health issues.

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