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Equalities and Rights Equalities and Rights

Work with employers to encourage better workplace mental health support

Last updated: 10:44am 22 January 2019

We will consider the findings of the Stevenson-Farmer Review into workplace mental health support, working with employers to encourage new products and incentives to improve the mental health and wellbeing support available to their employees.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.57

Our verdict

The government has repeatedly emphasised the importance of working closely with businesses and employers to encourage a dialogue and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The Stevenson-Farmer Review and the policy paper Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability, published in November 2017, both reinforced this manifesto promise to work closely with employers to find solutions to the challenges that face people with mental health conditions in today’s workplaces.

There has been lengthy consultation with employers on this, the findings of which were published in Improving Lives. What is noticeable, however, is the disparity between the changes implemented in the public sector, and a lack of similar schemes in the private sector. The government has implemented many of the recommendations of the Stevenson-Farmer Review in the civil service and NHS, such as introducing training for leaders, and has even held a public sector-wide summit on the issue.

Private sector employers have generally only been “encouraged” to take up recommendations. Information on the specifics can be found in the Improving Lives policy paper, particularly Annex C which is a full response to the Stevenson-Farmer Review. Stevenson-Farmer also recommended the introduction of financial incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to reward good practice in the financial sector. The government accepted the recommendation, but so far nothing has been introduced.

In January 2019 one of the authors of the review, Paul Farmer wrote:

“There are still areas we need to see urgently prioritised. … Employers have made great strides…[but]there is still a huge disability employment gap”

There has been movement towards fulfilment of this pledge, particularly in the public sector, but this will remain ‘in progress’ until there is more substantial evidence of new “products and incentives” in the private sector. Follow this policy for updates.

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