After nearly a year of enduring various public health measures, it is not surprising that the pandemic is taking a toll on people’s mental health.  Data released this week has confirmed what employers will have seen over the last year, with stress-related absences increasing by 64%.  Many of us will have experienced some stress or pressure related to the pandemic, from staff working on the frontline and worrying for their safety, to those working from home and feeling isolated from work colleagues.

Employers have a legal obligation to do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Whilst it is almost impossible to eliminate all work-related stress, there are steps all employers should be taking to ensure that their employees do not suffer work-related stress.

Carrying out a stress risk assessment will be an essential step for employers to take. Employers must then consider what they can do to mitigate the risks they have identified – whether that is monitoring workloads or making time for regular catch-ups with employees. Employers should also review the HSE’s Management Standards, which identify key areas of work that cause stress and emphasises the importance of collaboration between employees, employers and safety representatives to make improvements.

This article by my colleague Lorna Kenyon sets out in detail the steps that employers may wish to take to ensure that they are supporting their employees' mental health and wellbeing.