Reasonable adjustments at work

Our mental health is an important aspect of our lives. In fact, according to Mind, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue of some kind each year in England. Luckily, in today’s working environment, more employers are recognizing the importance of mental health at work. Today’s employers know that making reasonable adjustments for positive mental health at work can help employees feel comfortable and able to work to the best of their ability.

This guide is here to help employers understand what reasonable adjustments can be made to promote positive mental health in the workplace. How to provide employees with a basic understanding of their rights and how they can get support.

What Are Reasonable Adjustments and Why are They Important?

Reasonable adjustments are changes that can be made to the workplace in order to help employees who may be facing mental health issues.

Reasonable adjustments can include:
changes to the working environment, such as introducing flexible working hours or providing a private space for employees to take a break.
Changes to the way work is done, such as adjusting the volume of work, allowing time for breaks or providing additional support from a supervisor.

Reasonable adjustments are important because they may help employees, who are suffering with mental health issues at work, to feel supported. They can also help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health at work, which can be detrimental to the workplace as a whole.

Related Reading: What are the 5 Stages of Burnout?

Who is Eligible For Reasonable Adjustments At Work?

Any employee who experiences a mental health issue can be eligible for reasonable adjustments at work.

What Can Employees Do If They Need Support?

If you need support from your employer in order to manage your mental health at work, the first step is to speak to your manager. They may be able to provide you with the adjustments that you need in order to feel comfortable and able to work. 

You can also speak to the HR department or to a mental health charity such as Mind. They will be able to provide you with further advice and support on what reasonable adjustments may be required to help you manage your mental health at work.

Why Should an Employer Make Adjustments? 

For employers, making reasonable adjustments for positive mental health of employees can also be good for the business as a whole.

When employees feel supported and able to work to the best of their ability, they are more productive and less likely to take time off sick. In addition, employers who make reasonable adjustments for their employees’ mental health are more likely to be seen as an attractive workplace, which can help with recruitment and retention. 

Investing in your workforce’s mental health provides a wealth of benefits to employees, including:

    • A reduction in workplace stigma

    • Reduced absenteeism & presenteeism costs

    • Increased productivity

    • Improved mental health and wellbeing

    • Enhanced recruitment and retention prospects.

Calculate the cost of mental health-related absenteeism and presenteeism in your company with our Workplace Wellness HMRC Tool Guide.

8 Reasonable Adjustments At Work For Positive Mental Health

Introducing flexible working hours  

Flexible working allows employees to change their hours of work, or the way they work, in order to better accommodate their mental health. This could include working from home, changing the start and end time of their shift, or taking additional breaks. Whether part-time, on certain days or spontaneously, offering flexible working hours is a reasonable adjustment to promote positive mental health in the workplace. 

Providing a private space for employees  

A private space for employees to take a break can be helpful for those who feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed in open spaces. This could be a quiet room, an outdoor area, or even just a separate desk in a quiet area of the office. It is important to ensure that this space is comfortable and accessible, and that employees are aware of it and feel able to use it when needed.  

Making Adjustments To Work Volume 

If an employee feels that they are struggling to concentrate because of their mental health, it may be helpful to make adjustments to their volume of work. This could mean reducing the number of tasks that need to be completed in a day. Or providing more time for tasks to be completed, or employing another employee to assist with the workload. 

Discuss proposed adjustments with your supervisor and come up with a plan that works for both of you.

Being flexible with appointments 

Employees who need to attend the doctor’s or other related appointments for their mental health during work hours should be accommodated wherever possible. This could mean allowing time for the appointment, working from home, or taking an extended break during the day. If an employee needs to be absent for a doctor’s appointment, they should advise their supervisor as soon as possible.

Providing support from a manager  

A supervisor who is aware of and supportive of an employee’s mental health is a huge asset to the workplace. They can provide breaks when needed, ensure that work is manageable, and provide support. Having someone to talk to about work-related stress can be really helpful in managing mental health issues at work. For this reason a supportive supervisor is a reasonable adjustment. 

Offering Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to key members of your management team can help to ensuring that employees with mental health issues feel supported by their supervisors and the company as a whole.

Offering Mental Health First Aid training in the workplace  

Alongside offering MHFA training for key members of your management team, employers who offer MHFA training in the workplace are promoting positive mental health and wellbeing. Company-wide Mental Health Aware training can help to reduce the stigma around mental health issues at work, and can provide employees with the tools they need to support a colleague who is experiencing a mental health issue. 

This is vital to many organisations, as employees who feel supported are more likely to be comfortable at work. This can lead to a better working environment for all. As an employer, Mental Health First Aid training should be a key part of your HR strategy.

Related Reading: What is the Role of a Mental Health First Aider At Work?

Promoting an open attitude towards mental health in the workplace

Similarly, promoting a stigma-free attitude towards mental health in the workplace is a reasonable adjustment. This could involve displaying posters or other reading materials around the office, offering mental health-related events at work, discussing mental health in staff meetings, or simply talking about mental health with colleagues. Creating an open and supportive environment is key to managing mental health in the workplace.

Offering prolonged leave if necessary

If an employee’s mental health is severely impacting their ability to work, they may need to take a longer period of leave. This could be for a number of weeks, or even months. In some cases, it may not be possible for the employee to return to their previous job role, and alternative accommodations should be made. 

It is important that employers are understanding and supportive when it comes to prolonged leave due to mental health-related reasons, as this can be a difficult time for the individual. Ensuring that the employee feels comfortable and supported during this time is vital, and can help to improve their chances of returning to work in the future.

How To Apply Reasonable Adjustments At Work

The first step to making reasonable adjustments for positive mental health is to identify any problems there may be within your organisation. This can be done by talking to employees about their experiences, conducting an audit of the workplace, and looking at any issues that may have been raised.

What do your employees need? What have they voiced that could help them feel more supported? Is there any additional training you could offer them to support their journey?

Once the problems in your organisation have been identified, the next step is to come up with solutions. This can be done by consulting with experts, such as Mental Health First Aid trainers. Or by looking at what has worked in other workplaces.

Finally, it is important to implement the changes and monitor how they are working. This should involve talking to employees regularly to get their feedback and making further changes if necessary.

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Employer Best Practices For Making Reasonable Adjustments

Other best practices for employers when applying reasonable adjustments include:

    • Have a straightforward, honest and practical discussion with the individual. Find out how their mental health issue affects their work and what adjustments they feel they need.

    • Focus on the person’s abilities rather than their limitations.

    • Be adaptable Some mental illnesses may have an episodic nature. Therefore, it may be practical to establish agreements that can be implemented as needed and lifted when no longer required.

    • Tailor methods and techniques to the individual’s particular requirements and capabilities. Be creative and considerate.

    • Agree on reasonable adjustments that are appropriate for both the organisation and the individual.

    • Be realistic about what you can offer. Don’t make false promises. If you are unsure about the practicalities of what you can offer, consult your HR department or an external advisor.

    • Keep communication open and regular It is important to ensure the individual and the organisation are happy with the adjustments.

    • Maintain confidentiality Always respect the privacy of employees who discloses a mental health condition.

    • Only with the permission of the individual, communicate changes to other team members to avoid any confusion..

    • Consider the wider organisational environment in which these changes are taking place, and whether they can be provided to all employees. If so, create a plan of action.

Mental Health Reasonable Adjustments FAQs

What rights do I have at work?

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with mental health conditions. Employers must take reasonable steps to prevent employees from being at a disadvantage because of their mental health.

What adjustments do I need?

This will depend on the individual and their particular needs. Some common adjustments include changes to working hours or duties, alterations to the physical working environment, and providing support and training to help employees manage their condition.

When is an adjustment considered reasonable?

This will depend on the individual and their condition. But adjustments should be made to ensure that employees are able to do their job effectively. Reasonable can mean different things for different people. So it is important to discuss this with the individual and come to a mutual and realistic agreement that works for everyone.

Is an employer required to provide reasonable adjustments? 

Yes – under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with mental health conditions. As an employer, it is important to be familiar with your rights and responsibilities in this area.

What are reasonable adjustments for anxiety?

A rest area, a modified break schedule, a flexible schedule, and training are among the reasonable adjustments that may be provided to employees with anxiety. But each individual case may determine exactly what kind of assistance is required for a particular employee.

Looking To Support Employee Wellbeing With Mental Health First Aid?

Mental health can be a difficult and sensitive topic to discuss. And it is important that both employees and employers are aware of the rights and responsibilities they have in this area. By following these best practices, employers can ensure that they are well-positioned to provide reasonable adjustments for employees with mental health issues. Therefore creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace.

This is just a taste of what employers need to know about how to support employees with mental health conditions.  If you’re looking for more in-depth information, our Mental Health First Aid training course could be beneficial. 

This interactive course provides an overview of mental health conditions, their effects on employees, and the best ways to support those affected.

For more information about our Mental Health First Aid Training Courses, get in touch today!