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Employment News

21 Nov 2017

After several years of a relative status quo in employment law, 2017 is seeing interesting developments. Tessa Robinson, Solicitor in the Employment Team at DMH Stallard, provides a short round up of two significant recent announcements.

Employment Tribunal Fees

The government has recently announced its tribunal fees refund scheme. The refund scheme is taking place in two stages. The first stage involving 1000 individuals who were emailed directly by the Government  lasted around 4 weeks and has now completed. Those not involved were able to pre-register their interest in applying for a fee refund.

Individuals can apply for the refund online, or fill out a hard copy form and submit it in the post.

The government has confirmed that successful applicants to the scheme will also be paid interest of 0.5%, calculated form the date of the original payment up until the refund date.

Mental Health at Work

Recent years have seen a focus on mental health in the workplace, and the importance of the employers role in supporting and managing those who suffer with mental health problems. An independent review, “Thriving at Work” was published last week and looked at how employers can better support those with mental health problems.

The study stated that the UK faces a significant mental health challenge at work. 300,000 people with long term mental health problems lose their job each year. That is a much higher rate than those with physical health conditions. The study showed that around 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition. It estimated that the annual cost to employers is between £33 and £42 billion, with over half of that due to “presenteeism” (poor productivity when at work due to mental health).

The review by Paul Farmer and Dennis Stevenson, set out 6 “mental health core standards” which all organisations are capable of implementing quickly and 40 recommendations which they hope will drive change over the next 10 years. The 6 core standards all organisations should implement quickly are:

  1. Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan;
  2. Develop mental health awareness among employees;
  3. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
  4. Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development;
  5. Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors; and
  6. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

The review stresses that workplace mental health should be a priority for organisations. Employers have an important role in supporting all employees, including those with mental health problems, in thriving in the work place.

Aside from it being the right thing to do regardless, supporting mental health issues in the workplace in the right way is likely to increase productivity, reduce absences, reduce wasted management time and provide a positive impact for the business. Conversely, if handled poorly, employers can expect the opposite effect and could also face liabilities for discrimination, personal injury and/or constructive dismissal claims.

If you would like to discuss any of the above news in further detail, please contact your usual contact in the Employment Team.

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