I have a few questions about an employee who is suffering from depression and anxiety.
What are our obligations if we are uneasy about him being around other staff?
What are our rights/obligations when managing him within the business, especially regarding redundancy? We are concerned about the effect it might have on the employee.
Are there options, such as stress leave, for this employee? We obviously want to tread lightly and don’t want to exacerbate his issues.
Generally, an employee has protection at work from being treated adversely because they have an illness. Making a decision that is detrimental to the employee because they have an illness can expose your business to risk because you have several obligations when an employee has made you aware that they are suffering from an illness.
Firstly, you have obligations under anti-discrimination legislation to make reasonable adjustments for an employee who is suffering from an illness or injury.
If the employee has been open with you about their depression or anxiety, you might consider meeting with them to discuss what steps the business could take to accommodate their illness at work. You are only required to make any adjustments identified if they are reasonable.
Secondly, you have a duty to provide a safe workplace for your employees. If there is any reason to believe that the employee could create risks to themselves or others, or that there are any risks in the workplace which may disproportionately affect that employee, you need to take all reasonable precautions to mitigate these risks.
The fact that the employee has depression and anxiety doesn’t in itself place additional obligations on you in relation to making his position redundant. However, it may determine how you approach the redundancy process. Again, you may wish to meet with the employee to discuss ways that might lessen the impact of redundancy.
You are not obligated to offer an employee stress leave (unless they are unfit for work); however, you could reach agreement with the employee to do so. If you do, we suggest ensuring there are clear expectations of when and how this leave is to be taken and the rights of either party to bring the leave to an end.