Canadian HR Reporter

February 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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26 www.hrreporter.com F E A T U R E S NOT all employees will feel comfortable telling their employer that they are dealing with a mental illness, but this doesn't necessarily absolve an employer from taking no action to address the situation. In cases where an employer suspects that an employee suffers from a mental illness that may be affecting their performance at work, the employer has a duty to inquire. The duty to inquire exists only when you know or perceive — or the facts are such that you ought to have known or perceived — that an employee has a mental health disability that is the cause of a workplace issue. Indicators of mental illness These are common traits that may be indicative of an employee having a mental disability, such as: a significant departure from previous consistent behaviour; increased absences or tardiness; increased poor work representatives should be present — one to do the talking and the other to serve as a witness and take notes. If it's a unionized environment, there should be a union representative present. The Canadian Human Rights Commission advises against suggesting you can relate to an employee's struggles unless you've had a similar personal experience. Similarly, avoid delivering a "pep talk" that suggests that the employee can work their way through a disability. You should also avoid offering or asking for a diagnosis of the condition or cause of the illness. Refusals and denials It's possible the employee may not co-operate. They may refuse to answer questions, say the matter is private or deny that anything is bothering them. However, the employee does not dictate the next steps. An employee is within their rights to keep their personal health information to themselves if the employer's concerns are based entirely on off-duty conduct or rumours. But if the concerns are connected to behaviour occurring in MENTAL HEALTH IN CANADA suggestions to follow in the process. For one, it's important to raise the issue in the context of the employee's work performance. Be prepared to identify where an employee's performance is falling short, and be able to pinpoint specific behaviour that has resulted in the request for more information. When applicable, mention that the employee's recent conduct is a departure from their usual good performance — this will send a supportive message to the employee. It's also advisable to re-familiarize yourself with the organization's accommodation policies and processes to ensure compliance and to present the policy to the employee. You'll also want to mention the company's EAP, sick benefits or counselling. Confidentiality is also essential, and the employee should be advised that information will be requested on a need-to-know basis. For the meeting itself, two employer 48% Workers reluctant to admit to a boss or co-workers that they are suffering from a mental illness. 45% Number of workers citing public stigma as the reason for not disclosing mental illness. AN EMPLOYER'S DUTY TO INQUIRE In cases where an employer suspects that an employee suffers from mental illness that may be affecting their performance, there's a duty to inquire, according to a group of lawyers from MLT Aikins in Winnipeg performance; lower levels of co-operation and productivity; complaints of confusion; and expressions of grandiose ideas. Essentially, it's about looking for an alteration in an employee's past mood or behaviour that is material enough or has continued for long enough for you to conclude that they aren't just having a bad day or two. Many experienced HR professionals will have a good sense of knowing when to suspect an employee suffers from a mental illness — particularly when they are engaged with the employee's front-line manager or supervisor. Raising the issue If you conclude that an employee may have a mental illness, an employer's obligation is to provide the employee with a meaningful opportunity to identify what they are dealing with and request assistance or accommodation. There are a number of practical $2.18 Median yearly ROI for every dollar invested for companies that invest in mental health programs. 46% Number of employees experiencing burnout. 96% Number of senior managers who believe their team is experiencing burnout. 79% Number of employers providing mental health coverage, up from 40 per cent in 2014. F O C U S O N : E M P L O Y M E N T L AW Source: RBC, Deloitte Canada, O.C. Tanner Institute, Acountemps, International Federation of Employee Benefit Plans

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