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Samira Cakali Qualifies as a Mental Health First Aider

In August our Samira Cakali qualified as a Mental Health First Aider (‘MHFA’). In this article she discusses the scheme and how having a Mental Health First Aider could vastly improve your business and have a positive impact on the amount of disability claims that land on your desk. 

Why is mental health awareness in the workplace so important?

Mental ill health is the biggest reason for sickness absence and by far the largest cost to employers across the UK. Investing in staff wellbeing saves money in the long run – workplaces that prioritise mental health have more engaged, productive and loyal employees, who are less likely to need time off sick. 

What does the training involve?

MHFA is a two-day training course. The course is based around a five-step action plan for providing first aid to those suffering with their mental health. The course instructor educates the attendees on a variety of areas of mental health, how to spot the early signs of an issue and shows them how to apply the action plan in each case, which includes preserving life and guiding someone to appropriate sources of help. Areas that are covered are those such as: depression; suicide; substance misuse; anxiety; self-harm; eating disorders; personality disorders; and psychosis. 

What do businesses stand to gain from having a mental health first aider?

Both employers and employees stand to gain significantly from organisations having mental health first aiders. Training in MHFA will give employers the confidence to have these conversations, listen to their employees and therefore be able to understand how their employees feel and what support they need. When employees feel supported and able to discuss their concerns, they will feel better-able to continue to attend work and therefore sickness absence levels are likely to reduce. 

Are claims less likely if you are a MHFA?

The Equality Act 2010 (‘the Act’) places an obligation on employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees who are suffering from a disability under the Act. A mental health condition amounts to a disability under the Act if it has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the employee’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities. If an employer fails to make reasonable adjustments, it risks facing a disability discrimination claim. 

A MHFA-trained employer will be better able to have conversations with employees suffering from mental health conditions. This in turn will enable the employer and employee to work together to ascertain what reasonable adjustments can be put into place to assist the employee. If the employee subsequently issues a claim for an alleged failure to make reasonable adjustments, the employer will then stand a far greater chance of being able to defend such a claim. However, if an employee feels supported, they are also less likely to issue a claim in the first place.

Further details about MHFA training can be found at mhfaengland.org

If you need help and advice regarding mental health in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact Samira or the employment team on 01133 50 40 30 or at samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk

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How to Manage Diversity in the Workplace

Managing diversity in the workplace presents employers with a number of challenges. However, these challenges can be easily managed by employers promoting a culture of tolerance and open communication. Below are our top tips for managing diversity in the workplace.

Treat each employee as an individual

Avoid making assumptions about employees from different backgrounds. Instead, look at each employee as an individual and judge successes and failures on the individual’s merit.

Prioritise communication

To manage a diverse workplace, organisations need to ensure that they effectively communicate with employees. Policies, procedures, safety rules and other important information should be designed to overcome language and cultural barriers by translating materials and using pictures and symbols whenever applicable.

Encourage employees to work in diverse groups

Diverse work teams let employees get to know and value one another on an individual basis and can help break down preconceived notions and cultural misunderstandings.
Base standards on objective criteria

Set one standard of rules for all groups of employees regardless of background. Ensure that all employment actions, including discipline, follow these standardised criteria to make sure each employee is treated the same.

Be open-minded

Recognise, and encourage employees to recognise, that one’s own experience, background, and culture are not the only with value to the organisation. Look for ways to incorporate a diverse range of perspectives and talents into efforts to achieve organisational goals.

Recruitment

To build a diverse workplace, it is crucial to recruit and hire talent from a variety of backgrounds. This requires leadership and others who make hiring decisions to overcome bias in interviewing and assessing talent. If organisations can break through bias and hire the most qualified people, those with the right education, experience and skill sets, a diverse workplace should be the natural result.

Policies and Practices

Organisations that embrace diversity also need to ensure that there are policies and practices in place to protect employees’ rights and stay compliant with government regulations.

Zero-Tolerance Policy

Having a diverse workplace means that jokes and comments about a protected characteristic need to be met with zero-tolerance enforcement. Policies should be put in place to handle misconduct and communicate to employees that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. Organisations also need to make sure they have a formal complaint policy, so employees know how to report misconduct within an organisation.

Training

Employees need to be aware of how to coexist with a diverse range of people, as well as be conscious of cultural sensitivity. Training can help an organisation manage diversity in the workplace by helping employees become more self-aware, which plays a vital role in helping employees understand their own cultural biases and prejudices.

If you need any help and advice in relation to the above, please do not hesitate to contact me or the employment team on 0113 350 4030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Avoiding Bullying In The Workforce; Top Ten Tips For Employers

Bullying in the workplace does, unfortunately, exist.  The problem is what one person considers bullying, another considers banter.  Bullying often involves an abuse of power and results in behaviour which is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting.  It can include physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. 

So here’s my top ten tips for employers.

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What’s hot in HR and Employment Law!

Team SCE were out and about this week doing what we do best, which is of course provide discussion and advice relating to the dynamic world of employment law and HR.

Owing to our renowned expertise on the subject we were invited by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development to deliver a seminar at Leeds Metropolitan University to a range of HR Managers, HR Consultancies and freelancers on the trending topics in the employment sphere.

‘Trending’ is quite the appropriate word as a good deal of the seminar focused upon the hot button issue of social media and how to manage this in the workplace. This included explaining how to ensure your policies on social media are as robust and clear as possible, as well as some entertaining examples of recent cases that have raised questions about what is and is not appropriate when an employee mentions their place of work on Facebook.

As well as dealing with established areas such as retirement policies, the seminar also dealt with the recent tribunal reforms in addition to the emerging issues of the e-cigarette and infra-red alcohol testing devices and how best to implement a legally sound policy. 

The seminar was greatly received and we must say that we had a wonderful day out at the Leeds Met campus!

SCE Solicitors are available to deliver similar or bespoke seminars up and down the UK on the full spectrum of employment law and HR issues, so if you would like us to pay you a visit and deliver one, please do contact us at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk!