Employee Mental Health Absence Hits Record Highs

The number of self-reported work-related mental health cases in the UK hit a record high last year, according to global law firm Clyde & Co.

Analysis of fourteen years of data from the Labour Force Survey (a national quarterly survey of 37,000 households) shows that in 2016/17 there were an estimated 431,000 self-reported mental health cases where employees stated that they believed their job had caused, or made worse, their mental health issues – the highest number since records began.

Chris Holme, employment partner at Clyde & Co, comments: “Employers are focusing on mental health and supporting their employees more than ever before, and these figures show the importance of continuing to do this.”

“The uptick of self-reported cases may be due to increased numbers of mental health issues, or it may be due to increased public awareness around the issues and a desire and willingness to speak up.”

Further analysis from Clyde & Co shows that the human health and social working sector has the highest frequency of self-reported mental health cases per 100,000 employees. In 2016/17 there were an estimated 2,130 cases of work related mental health issues per 100,000 employees working in that sector.

Public administration and defence is the second highest sector with 2,040 cases per 100,000 employees, followed by financial services with 1,890 per 1000,000 employees [full table below].

Holme continues: “Organisations across all sectors need to check that the management of mental health remains firmly on their agenda. It’s a business critical issue that is increasingly moving to the forefront.”

Duty of Care

Clyde & Co points out that insurers are now working ever closer with their insureds when it comes to employer’s liability relating to mental health.

Jason Bleasdale, insurance partner at Clyde & Co, explains: “In recent years mental health has rightly been gaining awareness in the public, political and private spheres. Indeed, it has taken on increased global significance.”

“Insurers need to make sure they demonstrate clear awareness of the growing risks and continue to work closely with their insureds to help them improve their internal processes.”

“In stress related claims the onus is increasingly shifting towards employers having to take action at an ever earlier stage. They must be able to show that the correct steps were taken, so being on the front foot is imperative. It will also help them benefit (within the claims arena) from the increased and existing investment and focus upon mental health and wellbeing.”

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