Reasonable accommodation in relation to mental health
Reasonable accommodation in practice in relation to mental health can include:
- Time off to attend medical appointments
- Mentoring and peer support within the workplace
- Consulting with an employee in order to accommodate their return to work
- Adjusting an employee’s attendance hours or allowing them to work at home
- Relieving an employee of certain tasks, and substituting other equivalent duties, in consultation with the employee
- Provision of relevant training to support the employee to carry out their duties.
- It may be useful to get additional advice, with the agreement of the employee, from the employee’s doctor, an occupational health specialist, a mental health service or a mental health support group.
Disclosure of Mental Health Difficulties
Equality legislation does not require a person to disclose that they have a disability. Mental health difficulties are not always visible and people are often reluctant to disclose. There may already be employees with experience of mental health difficulties in your workplace, so it is important to consider policies and practices in relation to all employees.
Employees are more likely to disclose that they have experience of mental health difficulties if they are confident that they will not be discriminated against if they do so. Employers can make it easier for employees to disclose by:
- Creating trust with employees
- Putting in place clear policies and practices related to assessing the needs of employees and making reasonable accommodation, and making employees aware that these exist
- Ensuring that application forms and medical assessment processes do not discriminate.
Before requesting information about disability employers should think about:
- Why they need the information
- What they will do with the information
- What information they need
- When they need the information
- Who needs to know the information
- How they need to be informed
- How they will store the information.
An employer may need to know about functional issues, such as whether someone is on medication that may make them drowsy, but may not need to know a person’s diagnosis.
Information about an employee’s experience of mental health difficulties is sensitive personal data. Data protection law provides guidance on who needs to know certain information and how to store it securely. See www.dataprotection.ie
For further information see:
The National Disability Authority has produced a useful guide on retaining employees who acquire a disability, which is available on their website www.nda.ie
Please note that these factsheets are for information only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such.