Managing Mental Health Issues And Disputes In The Workplace

Common behavioural issues like poor performance, repeated absence, excessive risk taking or complaints of harassment and bullying are just a few of the mental health issues that are reported in the workplace. It is essential that employers manage these behavioural issues in ways that do not discriminate against their employees and potentially exasperate any mental health issues.

These types of behavioural issues often result in investigations that in particular have the potential to cause additional stress. They may also result in a significant exacerbation of pre-existing mental health issues. It is therefore critical for investigations by employers to be dealt with sensitively and for confidentiality to be strictly adhered. Added actions can provide support and counselling to be offered to employees throughout the entire process.

Who Has Jurisdiction Over Workplace Disputes

In Australia, Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court  and The Fair Work Commission have jurisdiction over all workplace disputes. They closely investigate an employer’s disciplinary processes, especially when it involves employee dismissal or resignation and when mental health issues are involved.

If mental health issues arise, they may even provide an employee with a total defence in instances of serious misconduct.

That is why an employer must engage in a proper performance management process.That will determine  if disciplinary action becomes necessary.

For example, if a mental health issue is altering the employees ability to do their job, it may be reasonable for an employer to begin a performance management process.

Here are a few recommendations from the Fair Work Commission in regards to  commencing a performance management process as follows:

  • Maintain a record of all discussions held at the initial meeting in a format that can be provided to the employee following the meeting.
  • All employees must have the opportunity to respond to the concerns raised at the initial meeting.  The employee must also be offered appropriate support and counselling after the meeting.
  • Be certain that all relevant incidents are documented and easily accessible to employees and attorneys.
  • All meetings with the employee must be confidential. The employee can also bring a support person if needed. This can be a friend, or family member, but no co-workers are allowed. 
  • Depending on the terms and conditions of their employment contract and the nature of the employer’s concerns, it may be necessary to arrange a follow-up meeting after a reasonable review period to assess whether there has been any improvement in the employee’s behaviour and/or performance.

Let The Team At Tego Insurance Help You Deal With Workplace Issues

We are Australian medical indemnity insurance providers and cover your practice with medical indemnity insurance, doctors indemnity insurance, gp medical indemnity insurance, medical malpractice insurance, medical practice insurance, and more. If you are a health practitioner with Tego, we offer 24/7 medico-legal advice and support in regards to what you need to know about the new guidelines for psychiatrists.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitutes legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. All content on this page has been written in a generic way, and has not been presented with any knowledge of your personal objectives or financial needs.