How is mental health covered by the Equality Act?

Under the Equality Act 2010, an individual is considered to be disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Substantial is more than 'trivial' or 'minor' and long-term means if the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months or more.

The mental health charity Mind explains how the Equality Act 2010 is there to protect people experiencing difficulties with their mental health from discrimination.

'Disability' has a special legal meaning under the Equality Act, find out more on Mind's disability discrimination information page and the Time to Change website.

Someone who is considered 'disabled' under the Equality Act can ask their employer to make 'reasonable adjustments'. Reasonable adjustments remove, reduce or prevent disadvantages or obstacles experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure workers with disabilities are not disadvantaged when doing their jobs. Rethink Mental Health has produced a guide about what's reasonable at work.

If the problems someone is experiencing aren't covered by disability discrimination there are other employment rights which may apply in an individual situation including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which ensure the health safety and welfare of employees at work.

You can call ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) on 0300 123 1100 if you need advice about the Equality Act 2010 and what is discrimination at work. ACAS provides free and independent information on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.

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