Businesses have a duty of care towards their employees’ wellbeing whether or not they are working from home or on furlough.
Employers are subject to extensive legal obligations in respect of the welfare of their staff. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 makes employers responsible, so far as is reasonably practicable, for their employees’ wellbeing, health and safety. This means both mental and physical health.
There is no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on our mental health as a nation. Recent research published by The Prince’s Trust revealed that the mental health of one in four people aged 16-25 has worsened during the pandemic, and these worries are not limited to the young.
Employment solicitor Melodie Thompson explores the various issues and advice for support in this article published in People Management on 9 April 2021.
Being furloughed or flexibly furloughed, can be stressful, particularly when individuals are concerned about job security or worried about financial hardship. Crucially though, employees retain their employment rights while on furlough, meaning the employer is still responsible for their wellbeing, health and safety.
Therefore, businesses should remain in contact with their furloughed staff, and this is recommended by Acas. For many furloughed workers, feelings of anxiety and isolation can be reduced if there is frequent communication with their employer.
Some ideas for employers:
- Encourage an open culture where employees feel they can talk about their mental health.
- Introduce a mental health at work policy to ensure staff know what support is available, and how mental health in the workplace is managed and provide emergency contacts.
- Develop awareness of mental health among employees – identify what it is, and what mental ill-health means.
Read the article in full here for more options.
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