According to the UK Parliament (House of Commons Library) in a 2014 report (conducted by NHS) 1 in 6 people aged 16+ had experienced symptoms of a common mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety.
There is due to be an updated survey conducted this year to illustrate the present circumstance.
The purpose of this article is to raise awareness because an employer must make reasonable adjustments if you suffer from a mental health condition and this condition adversely affects your day-to-day activities. If a mental health condition is classified as a disability, you are legally protected by the Equality Act.
We recommend anyone who relates to seek legal advice if necessary and not solely rely on this article as legal advice. You can contact the author, a Partner and Solicitor, Kolade Jegede, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disability and Equality Act 2010
Under the Equality Act, the main feature of being classified as disabled is if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. For the purpose of this article, we are solely focusing on mental impairment.
We now look at each of the underlying criteria. A mental health condition can be classified into the following (it is not limited to any of the below conditions).
- bipolar disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
If you are getting treatment for any condition, for the purpose of deciding whether a condition is having a substantial, adverse effect on the person’s daily activities, the effect of any treatment is ignored.
For the condition to be considered substantial it covers more than minor or trivial and long-term means affecting someone for 12 months or more. It is worth noting that a condition that becomes progressive can be classified as a disability. Those that require confirmation of whether they fit into the classification should seek legal advice.
Normal day-to-day activity is defined as regular activities conducted on a normal day. Such as interacting with people and/or using a laptop/computer.
Employer – How they must help
First and foremost, an employer cannot discriminate against you because of disability.
For those that due to circumstances become disabled under mental health conditions during their employment, an employer cannot pressure you to resign and must keep the job available.
Reasonable adjustment is where an employer makes additional steps to ensure that a person disabled is not disadvantaged in comparison to a non-disabled person.
These are a few common examples of reasonable adjustment
- Flexible hours or part-time hours.
- Ensuring time off for medical treatment or counselling.
- Giving another employee tasks that a disabled person cannot easily do.
- Providing practical aids and technical equipment.
Although your employer cannot dismiss you because you have become disabled, they can dismiss you if your disability means that you cannot perform the job even after reasonable adjustments are put in place.
In conclusion, mental health conditions can affect any person at any stage in life and therefore, it is essential for everyone not just those that may be in these categories to be fully aware of their rights and what your employer should do in these circumstances.