Regular readers of our blog may recall that my colleague Laura McMillan recently commented on an increased health & safety focus on stress and mental well-being.

The UK Government has now launched a consultation on statutory sick pay and workplace health - you may be interested in reading and, indeed, responding to that. Our employment colleagues have also written a helpful post about the key aspects of the consultation . The deadline for responding to the consultation is 7 October 2019.

Changing the face of health and safety

There can perhaps be a tendency to assume that health & safety law governing accidents in the workplace focuses only on avoiding physical harm. However, ensuring general well-being and reducing harm to mental health is just as important.

Indeed, work-related stress, depression and anxiety accounted for approximately 15 million working days lost in the UK in 2018, so there is clearly a link between improved workplace mental health and increased productivity.

The UK Government's consultation reflects that principle and refers to the benefits that Occupational Health (OH) services can bring to business.

The Health and Safety Executive actively encourages the provision of OH services. The UK Government intends to improve access to OH services by reducing costs, especially for small employers and self-employed people. This should ensure that all employees and workers across the UK have access to an improved OH service which should help reduce the instance of absence through ill health.

Things to think about:

  • What processes for assessing risks and identifying trends relating to mental health and well-being do you have in place?
  • What steps are you taking to create a workplace culture where mental health and well-being is promoted and supported, and do your policies need to be updated?
  • Are you providing mental health and well-being information and training to staff - and encouraging feedback?


Lynn Livesey

Legal Director