Your duties as an employer

Your duties as an employer

Young woman and manager smiling and talking in comfortable work roomWhen you become aware that someone in your organisation has a mental health difficulty, it is important that you provide support. Creating a culture where people feel confident that they can have compassionate, supportive conversations is key to this. 

There will be times, however, where you will need to be more structured in your approach. This will help to ensure that your organisation is fulfilling its role and its legal duties. 

Fulfilling duties to your organisation 

As well as a desire to support wellbeing, you also have responsibility to ensure that people are attending work or training, that the required work is completed to an acceptable standard and that people are working safely. 

You also have responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that people who are experiencing mental health difficulties are not discriminated against at work. The core responsibilities associated with this are: 

  1. Employers must ensure they do not discriminate against people due to mental health difficulties. 
  2. If someone has a mental health difficulty and it may affect their work, employers must attempt to see if they can reduce the impact of a person’s health condition on their ability to work, and to ensure they are getting the right support at work. Often, simple workplace changes can allow people with mental health conditions to continue working productively.  
  3. These are known as “reasonable adjustments” and an employer has a duty to consider them if they know a person is experiencing a mental health difficulty.
  4. Reasonable means an adjustment that is effective for the employee without being too disruptive, costly, or impractical for the employer to provide.
  5. Whilst many people with mental health conditions might not consider themselves to be disabled, their condition might be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if it has a substantial impact on their day-to-day life over a long period. 

Whether the Equality Act applies or not, it is still good practice for employers to make reasonable adjustments to support staff who need it. 

Creating a Wellness Action Plan 

If an apprentice is experiencing difficulties with their mental health, it can be very helpful to create a detailed plan about what they need from you, and what you are reasonably able to provide in support. A Wellness Action Plan (WAP) helps to set out clearly how any difficulties with mental health are affecting work and what the person and you as their employer and/or training provider can do to help with this. This both provides support and helps to be clear in writing that you are doing everything possible to support the person under your duties arising from the Equality Act. A WAP should cover areas including: 

  • approaches the person will take and behaviours they can adopt to support their mental wellbeing 
  • early warning signs of poor mental health that their manager or supervisor can look out for 
  • any workplace triggers for poor mental health or stress 
  • potential impact of poor mental health on performance, if any 
  • what support the person needs from their line manager
  • actions and positive steps the person and the manager will take if they are experiencing stress or poor mental health
  • an agreed time to review the WAP and any support measures that have been put in place to see if they are working
  • anything else that would be useful in supporting the person's mental health

You can download a managers guide and template for creating Wellness Actions Plan from the MIND website:
Download Wellness Actions Plan from MIND website

What apprentices said

Providing support doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. We asked some apprentices about how their employer has supported them at work; here are a few of the things they found useful: 

  • A friendly ear to listen to your problem 
  • Weekly catch-ups with your manager
  • A wellbeing section in the company app / online resources about wellbeing
  • Encouragement to take regular breaks
  • Designated mental health officers/champions in the workplace

Read our useful guides

Cover of PDF file Mental Wellbeing - Support for Apprentices, showing a young man smiling at a work tableIn partnership with mental health charity Penumbra we have compiled four comprehensive guides to accompany this web resource. These two guides, for employers, will help you to support your apprentices' mental health at work. The two guides for apprentices can be found in our Mental Health resource for apprentices.

View PDF guide Mental Wellbeing - Support for Apprentices

View PDF guide Supporting Apprentices around Suicide and Self-Harm



Fair Work is for everyone

Logo of Fair Work ConventionAll employees have the right to be treated fairly at work. The Fair Work Convention supports employers in Scotland to ensure every employee has a voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect.

Find out more about Fair Work and how it supports employers



Logo of mental health charity Penumbra

We are grateful to mental health charity Penumbra for providing advice and information on mental health for this resource. If any of your apprentices or other employees need support, you should encourage them to contact a GP or professional mental-health support organisation.

Find support organisations for mental health