Mental Health at Work and the Duty to Make Reasonable Adjustments

Forthcoming: Industrial Law Journal (2015)

38 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2015

See all articles by Mark Bell

Mark Bell

Trinity College Dublin; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Date Written: October 27, 2014

Abstract

There is widespread evidence that mental health is a key issue in today’s workplace. Stress, depression and anxiety are the leading causes of sickness absence, while people with mental health problems report frequent experiences of discrimination at work. Data also shows low employment participation rates amongst those with mental health problems. This article explores the role that employment law can play in fostering a more inclusive labour market, looking specifically at the duty to make reasonable adjustments in the Equality Act 2010. It examines how tribunals and courts have interpreted the duty, finding evidence that the multi-stage test commonly followed creates obstacles for claimants, as well as giving rise to ambiguity and, at times, inconsistency. The article concludes that the duty to make reasonable adjustments can be a valuable resource for people with mental health problems, but this is being constrained by restrictive interpretations of the law. Enforcement via individual litigation is unlikely to be sufficient in bringing about the necessary changes in organisational culture in order to render the workplace more conducive to mental well-being.

Keywords: mental health, disability, discrimination, reasonable accommodation, equality

Suggested Citation

Bell, Mark, Mental Health at Work and the Duty to Make Reasonable Adjustments (October 27, 2014). Forthcoming: Industrial Law Journal (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2589015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2589015

Mark Bell (Contact Author)

Trinity College Dublin ( email )

School of Law
College Green
Dublin, 2
Ireland

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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