Employees across Worcestershire who have a medical or mental health condition are being urged not to miss out on essential legal support they are entitled to.
The alert has come from county employment solicitor Lisa Kemp who says many affected workers are not aware of the duties placed on their bosses by the Equality Act 2010, which entitles them to have reasonable adjustments made.
Ms Kemp, from law firm mfg Solicitors, has spoken out following a growing number of worker-related health cases she has dealt with this year – especially where bosses have failed to highlight the opportunities and protection the Act gives.
She said: “Mental health conditions can amount to a disability as far as UK legislation is concerned and we are seeing a growing number of cases across the country.
“But all too often a lack of understanding on the part of the employer, or sometimes complete ignorance, means they fail to make reasonable adjustments, even though the law says they must.
“In recent months I’ve been actively encouraging employees not to be afraid of speaking out. It’s simple, the law is there to protect them if their employers are failing them and not making necessary changes to their role or the workplace.
“If a friendly word does not get the right result, then a formal grievance can and should follow, so a sensible discussion can be had about appropriate adjustments to that person’s conditions.
“It’s surprising how many people are affected but I’m urging them to do things by the book before launching a formal tribunal complaint.
“Just in the first six months of this year alone many people in the county haven’t sought legal advice and that has severely hampered them. Before pursuing a claim, I’d strongly suggest an employee seeks legal advice before taking things any further. That kind of advice can help with negotiating settlements to compensate them for any disadvantage suffered.”
A worker is disabled as far as the Equality Act is concerned if they have a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out their normal day to day activities. Employees and job applicants have the right not to be discriminated against because of their disability.
Ms Kemp is offering a free 15 minute initial telephone consultation with employees who are looking to for advice on the Equality Act and mental health in the workplace. To contact her readers can email firstname.lastname@example.org.