Right Strategies to Address Mental Health in the Workplace

Right Strategies to Address Mental Health in the Workplace

Employers in Ontario must be aware of the importance of creating strategies and policies to address mental health in the workplace, particularly with regard to human rights under Ontario legislation.

Mental health is the leading cause of disability among employers of all sizes, and it’s important that employers create effective strategies to both support mental health in the workplace in general, as well as respond to individual employees experiencing difficulties.

What are Employer Obligations Regarding Mental Health in the Workplace?

Mental health challenges can be the basis for a disability if the employee is unable to perform some or all functions of their job as a result. This means that under the Ontario Human Rights Code, employers are obligated to accommodate any such employee, a process that entails working with the employee, and often their medical professional, to determine how best to meet their needs and restrictions imposed by their mental health.

Beyond this, employers are expected to have policies in place to address mental health issues in the workplace, such as procedures for employees to bring forward concerns, as well as education and training for managers about talking to employees experiencing mental health issues.

What Legal Liabilities can Employers Face for Failing to Accommodate?

Employers are expected to undertake the accommodation process in good faith, with sensitivity and understanding of the specific challenges that mental health issues can pose for employees. Employers who fail to do so, often by dictating rather than listening to employees, can be liable for discrimination against the employee for failing to accommodate their disability, potentially resulting in damages related to wrongful dismissal and human rights violations.

Employers can avoid this liability by taking proactive measures to address mental health challenges, with the key objective of fostering a workplace where employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss with employers their challenges and what they need to accommodate those challenges.

How can Whitten and Lublin help?

If you are an employer looking to learn more about how you can create a strategy to address mental health in the workplace and accommodate employees, Whitten & Lublin is here to assist you. Contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667.

Author – Aaron Zaltzman