How does my business put together a wellbeing policy?
A wellbeing policy is a good opportunity for an employer to provide their staff with guidance on what to do if they are suffering from stress or mental ill health.
The policy will set out the support that will be made available by the employer in these circumstances. It also allows the employer to show the steps they are taking to support mental wellbeing in the workplace.
A wellbeing policy will typically include details about:
- Understanding stress and mental health in the workplace. This could include a definition of both stress and mental health. It’s useful to incorporate a general recognition that people can react differently to similar situations – and that the triggers for poor mental health will vary for person to person.
- How the employer commits to support mental wellbeing at work and its commitment to providing a working environment that supports mental wellbeing. This can include the employer promoting a culture of open and honest communication regarding mental health. The policy could detail the various services on offer to support mental wellbeing, for instance:
- Details of the training that staff will receive on mental ill health and equality and diversity.
- Details of any mental health champions and/or mental health first aiders who can be contacted by an employee who is experiencing poor mental health or stress.
- An occupational health contact number for advice on stress and mental wellbeing.
- How the employer will address work-related stress and stress-related absence. Employers should encourage staff to bring this to the attention of their manager or HR, whoever they feel most comfortable speaking to. They may also contact a mental health first aider if one is available to them. The policy could then detail what steps will be taken to help and support the employee. This could include:
- A review of their current job duties and whether any amendments can be made to decrease stress levels (usually on a temporary basis).
- Whether a medical referral is necessary in the circumstances.
- If the employee is absent from work due to sickness, what further action may be required in line with any sickness absence policy.
- The importance of confidentiality. The policy can remind staff that information about stress and mental health is highly sensitive and such information should be kept confidential. The policy should also reassure staff that they are protected from any form of harassment or victimisation based upon a disclosure concerning their mental wellbeing.
An employer should ensure that it is able to follow through on commitments made in a wellbeing policy. For example, that risk assessments are undertaken, training is provided and that the sources of support are made available.
Andrew Willshire is associate solicitor in the employment team at Paris Smith