Health and Wellbeing


Ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees is a fundamental responsibility for employers, contributing to a productive, positive, and sustainable work environment.

Employee wellbeing refers to a holistic approach that focuses on the overall health, happiness, and productivity of employees. Beyond just physical health, it encompasses mental and emotional wellbeing, work-life balance, and creating a positive and supportive work environment. Prioritising employee wellbeing can lead to increased job satisfaction, reduced absenteeism, and improved performance.


A. Supporting Mental Health at Work


Mental health is a crucial component of overall employee wellbeing. Poor mental health can lead to decreased productivity, higher absenteeism, and increased turnover. Employers play a key role in supporting mental health in the workplace by implementing effective strategies and providing the necessary resources.

Employee Assistance Programmes provide confidential counselling and support services for employees dealing with personal or work-related issues. These programmes can offer immediate help and long-term strategies for managing stress and mental health concerns, ensuring employees receive timely and appropriate support.

Offering mental health training programmes for managers and employees can help identify early signs of mental health issues and provide the necessary support. These training sessions can cover topics such as stress management, resilience building, and promoting a positive mental health culture, equipping staff with the tools to handle mental health challenges effectively.

Providing access to mental health professionals, such as counsellors or therapists, ensures employees have the resources they need for ongoing support. Employers can partner with external providers or hire in-house professionals to offer regular counselling services, enhancing the overall mental healthsupport system within the workplace.

Implementing wellness programmes that focus on stress reduction, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques can help employees manage their mental health proactively. Activities such as yoga, meditation sessions, and wellness workshops can be beneficial in promoting mental wellbeing and reducing workplace stress. By integrating these programs into the workplace, employers can create a supportive environment that prioritises mental health and fosters a culture of wellbeing.


B. Managing Work-Related Stress


Work-related stress is recognised by law as a significant issue that employers must manage and prevent.

Employers are legally required to manage work-related stress under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also provides guidelines for employers to assess and mitigate stress risks in the workplace.

Employers must conduct regular risk assessments to identify stress factors and take steps to mitigate them. Employers should create a supportive work environment by promoting a culture of open communication and encouraging employees to speak up about stress.

Providing training for managers to recognise and address stress signs is critical. Employers should implement policies that promote work-life balance, such as flexible working hours and reasonable workloads. Access to support services, like Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) and mental health resources, should be readily available.

Regularly reviewing workplace practices and gathering employee feedback helps in identifying and addressing stress-related issues. By proactively managing work-related stress, employers can improve employee wellbeing, reduce absenteeism, and enhance overall productivity.


C. Wellbeing When Working from Home


Working from home presents unique challenges for employee wellbeing, including physical and mental health risks.


a. Employer Responsibilities

Employers have a duty to ensure the wellbeing of employees working from home. This includes conducting risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential hazards in the home workspace. Employers should provide necessary equipment and ergonomic guidance to prevent physical strain. Clear communication channels must be established to maintain regular contact and support, ensuring employees do not feel isolated.

Employers should promote work-life balance by setting reasonable expectations for working hours and encouraging breaks. Access to mental health resources and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) should be readily available. Training managers to recognise signs of stress and provide appropriate support is also crucial.


b. Employee Rights

Employees working from home have the right to a safe and healthy work environment. They should receive the necessary equipment and support to perform their duties effectively. Employees are entitled to regular communication and updates from their employer, helping them stay connected and informed.

Employees have the right to reasonable adjustments to their work conditions to support their mental and physical health. They should also expect clear guidelines on work expectations and be encouraged to maintain a healthy work-life balance.


D. Disability at Work


While supporting and treating disabled employees fairly is a legal requirement, promoting an inclusive culture where disabled employees are valued and supported enhances productivity and morale.


a. Employer Responsibilities

Employers must create an inclusive workplace by implementing policies that accommodate disabled employees. This includes conducting accessibility audits to ensure facilities and workspaces are accessible to all.

Employers should engage in active dialogue with disabled employees to understand their specific needs and make appropriate adjustments, such as providing specialist equipment or adapting tasks.

Training staff on disability awareness and anti-discrimination practices is essential. Employers should also monitor workplace practices to prevent any form of harassment or discrimination. Regular reviews and updates of disability policies help maintain compliance with evolving legal standards and best practices.


b. Employee Rights

Employees are entitled to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment, with equal opportunities for career advancement.

Disabled employees have the right to reasonable adjustments that enable them to perform their job effectively. They should be consulted about their needs and involved in the decision-making process regarding adjustments.

Employees should have access to resources and support systems, such as occupational health services, to aid their wellbeing. They are also entitled to confidentiality regarding their disability and related adjustments unless they consent to share this information.


E. Using Occupational Health at Work


Employers might need to use occupational health to assess an employee’s fitness for work, recommend adjustments, and provide rehabilitation support after illness or injury. Early intervention by occupational health professionals can prevent long-term absence and facilitate a smoother return to work, benefiting both the employee and the organisation.


a. Employer Responsibilities

Employers may need to engage occupational health services to assess and support employees’ health needs, particularly after extended absences or when specific health concerns arise. They should provide clear referrals and relevant job information to occupational health professionals.

Employers are responsible for implementing recommendations from occupational health assessments, such as workplace adjustments or phased returns to work.

Confidentiality must be maintained throughout the process, ensuring that employees’ health information is handled discreetly. Regularly reviewing the effectiveness of occupational health interventions is also crucial to improving workplace health standards.


b. Employee Rights

Employees have the right to access occupational health services for support with health-related work issues. They should receive clear information about the purpose of occupational health assessments and how the process works. Employees are entitled to confidentiality regarding their medical information and must provide consent before any health information is shared with their employer.

Employees have the right to be involved in discussions about their health and any recommended workplace adjustments, ensuring their needs and preferences are considered.


F. Menopause at Work


Supporting employees who are experiencing the menopause is critical for maintaining a supportive and inclusive workplace.


a. Support and Adjustments

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers must ensure that employees are not discriminated against due to menopause-related symptoms, which may be considered a disability.

Employers should provide reasonable adjustments, such as flexible working hours, access to rest areas, and adjustments to workplace temperature or ventilation. Open communication channels should be established, allowing employees to discuss their needs without stigma.


b. Training and Awareness

Training managers and staff on menopause awareness is crucial to foster understanding and support. Employers should incorporate menopause into health and wellbeing policies, ensuring comprehensive support.


c. Health and Safety

Conduct risk assessments to identify and mitigate factors that may exacerbate menopause symptoms. Providing access to occupational health services can also support affected employees.


G. Extreme Temperatures in the Workplace


Employers are legally obligated to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment, including managing extreme temperatures. Extreme temperatures can significantly impact employee health and productivity.


a. Risk Assessment

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must take reasonable steps to protect employees from hazardous temperature conditions.
Conduct regular risk assessments to identify and mitigate risks associated with extreme temperatures. This includes evaluating the work environment and implementing measures such as adequate ventilation, heating, or cooling systems.


b. Workplace Adjustments

Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and adjust work practices during extreme temperatures. This might include flexible working hours, more frequent breaks, and access to cool or warm areas.
c. Communication and Training
Ensure employees are informed about the risks of extreme temperatures and trained on how to protect themselves. Clear guidelines should be provided on recognising symptoms of heat stress or hypothermia and the actions to take.


H. Medical Suspension


Medical suspension can be necessary if there is a health risk associated with working with dangerous chemicals, lead, or radiation. Employers must ensure that medical suspensions are handled with transparency and fairness.


a. Employer Responsibilities

When an employee is suspended for health reasons, employers must clearly communicate the specific health and safety concerns necessitating the suspension and provide an estimated timeline. During the suspension period, employers are typically required to continue paying the employee, maintaining their financial stability unless otherwise stated in the employment contract.

Employers should also facilitate access to necessary medical evaluations and occupational health services to assess the employee’s condition accurately. Regular reviews of the suspension should be conducted to evaluate its continued necessity and to make timely decisions about the employee’s return to work.


b. Employee Rights

Employees have the right to be fully informed about the reasons for their medical suspension and the procedures involved. They should be treated with respect, and their confidentiality maintained throughout the process.

Employees can expect to be consulted about any medical assessments and to receive support in understanding and addressing the health concerns identified.

If an employee feels that the suspension is unfair or improperly managed, they have the right to raise concerns through appropriate channels, such as internal grievance procedures or employment tribunals.


I. Keeping Everyone Safe at Work


Ensuring the safety of all employees is a fundamental responsibility of employers, although employers and employees should work together to identify potential hazards and implement measures to mitigate risks.


a. Employer Responsibilities

Employers are legally required to ensure a safe working environment, as mandated by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They must conduct regular risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential hazards, implementing measures to prevent accidents and injuries.

Employers should provide appropriate training and resources, ensuring that all employees understand safety protocols and procedures. Safety equipment and protective gear must be provided where necessary, and emergency procedures should be clearly communicated and practised.


b. Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Employees have the right to a safe working environment and should be informed about any risks associated with their job. They are entitled to receive adequate training on health and safety practices and to have access to necessary safety equipment.

Employees should report any hazards or unsafe conditions to their employer without fear of retaliation. Additionally, they have the right to refuse work that poses an imminent and serious danger to their health or safety.




Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing & Content Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.