PositivePeople No Comments

Mental Health and the Workplace

Mental Health and the Workplace

Recently there has been a lot in the news regarding mental health. The passing of Greg Boyed prompted an outpouring of tributes by his journalist colleagues. One, by Rawdon Christie, called for managers to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees.

There are some important reasons to make mental health a priority in the workplace:

  1. In NZ one in five adults experience some form of common mental health issue in any year. Almost two in five adults have experienced a mental health issue over their lifetime.
  2. Employee health affects the workplace and the workplace affects the health of employees. It is important for employers to understand the difference between pressure, which keeps us all going and makes us productive, and stress, which makes unmanageable demands that damage both employees and the business. There should also be an awareness that life outside of work affects the wellbeing of workers when they are at work.
  3. Workplaces are legally required to take all practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, workplaces have a role to play in the prevention of harm to all people at work. This includes mental harm caused by work-related stress.
  4. A healthy work environment increases productivity and reduces employee turnover, stress, and personal grievance claims
  5. Workplaces feel the effects of poor mental health of employees through increased absenteeism and increased ‘presenteeism’ – when employees are at the workplace but not mentally engaged with work. It is estimated that on average, employees have nearly three times as many ‘presentee’ days as absentee days

Source: www.mentalhealth.org.nz

Your role as a manager

It’s crucial that managers are equipped to act or know where to turn if they have concerns about the mental health of an employee. There are a number of onsite and offsite courses from a variety of providers that teach the basics of ‘Mental Health First Aid’.

In addition to crises management, it’s also important to consider:

  • What support can and should you provide when an employee is struggling with their mental health?
  • How will you manage misconduct or disciplinary processes when there are mental health concerns?
  • How will you manage the return-to-work of an employee after time off due to a mental health issue?

Once you’re ready and prepared to support employees experiencing mental illness, then it’s time to consider how you can proactively promote mental health in the workplace. This might be as simple as organising a shared lunch, entering a team in a local sporting event, or organising a charitable donation for some of your team to deliver on behalf of your business. Check out five ways to wellbeing for employer resources, put together by the Mental Health Foundation.

Contact us to find out how we can partner with you to implement a mental health and wellbeing programme that suits the needs of your business and employees. 

PositivePeople No Comments

Domestic Violence Leave

Domestic Violence Leave:

What does it mean for employers?

From 1 April 2019 all employees will be entitled to 10 days domestic violence leave every year. While this is a positive step forward for supporting victims of domestic violence, it may have a significant impact on your business so it’s crucial to understand what the new legislation means and how to implement it successfully.

The legislation means that:

  • Each employee is entitled to 10 days domestic violence leave per year, if they or a child they care for is a victim of domestic violence
  • This leave does not carry over each year (unlike annual leave), and so each employee has a maximum of 10 days each year regardless of whether they have taken domestic violence leave before
  • Domestic violence leave that has not been taken does not need to be paid out on termination of employment
  • Like sick leave or bereavement leave, the entitlement is available only after 6 months continuous service
  • The employee must inform you of their intention to take domestic violence leave as early as possible before they are due to start work, or as soon as practical after this
  • The leave should be paid out as either the relevant daily pay or average daily pay (like sick leave)
  • An employer may ask that the employee provide proof of domestic violence to be entitled to the payment

So what steps should you take to put this into practice in your organisation?

We recommend you:

  1. Update your Employment Agreement or Employee Handbook to include a clause on domestic violence leave
  2. Talk to your payroll provider to make sure they have set it up in their system, and ensure your payroll administrator is aware of the information they need to process this correctly
  3. Develop a clear policy that covers requests for domestic violence leave and the process and support available to any employee who requests it. This information will be very sensitive so you must consider the privacy aspect of these requests very carefully when developing a policy
  4. Educate you leadership team on handling requests, how to be sensitive and supportive to the employee, and how and when to request proof of domestic violence
  5. Consider what additional support you may be able to offer employees who request this type of leave, through counselling, EAP support or referrals to support agencies

Domestic violence can happen to team members from all levels of your organisation and have a major impact on their ability to perform their role. Anyone who is not safe at home will struggle to fulfill the requirements of their role, and asking for help in this situation can be challenging. By offering a supportive, caring environment where your team feel OK to ask for help, you can make a significant difference to their lives.

Positive People has 23 years’ experience helping organisations develop policies which align with legislation and support their teams. If you need help to implement a policy on domestic violence leave, please contact us today.