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MH Claims on the Rise!

2 May 2020

An increasing awareness of mental health issues is leading to higher rates of disability discrimination claims where mental rather than physical disability forms the basis of a claim.

The number of disability discrimination claims has jumped by 11% over the last year from 6511 to 7211, the highest number since 2012/13.

Reasons for this rise include the abolition of tribunal fees in 2017 and a willingness for workers to lodge claims relating to mental health. Heightened media attention has also helped people talk more freely - without the stigma that once existed - and it's fair to say that doctors have a noticeable and growing preparedness to support workplace absences around stress, anxiety and other disorders.

The important point about disability discrimination claims, and where employers often trip up, is that claims can be brought if an employer has failed to make an adjustment for a pre-existing condition. Often when new employees join a new organisation these conditions are not well managed, which can trigger a claim.

HR need to manage these through the implementation of a mental health strategy. Strategies should contain a statement committing to relevant company values such as supporting staff, a positive environment for mental health at work and a zero tolerance towards discrimination.

The strategy should also link in relevant policies, for example Stress at Work and Absence Management or Flexible Working policies and ensure mental health objectives are measured.

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