Mental Health Obligations in the Workplace

Health, Employment Law, Health and Safety, General / 27 October 2022
Mental Health Obligations in the Workplace

We recently discussed WorkSafe’s approach to mental health at work and expectations that PCBU’s identify mental health risks and eliminate them from work so far as is reasonably practicable. These risks include bullying and harassment, work related stress and fatigue.

We discuss these risks in more detail below, as identifying signs of these is crucial to successful management.

Bullying and Harassment

Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour that can cause physical or mental harm. It can be physical, verbal, psychological or social. It may include victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person. Bullying can happen not just between managers and staff, but also among co-workers, contractors, customers, clients or visitors.

Harassment can include watching, loitering, following, or acting in ways that causes a person to fear for their safety. To be considered harassment, the behaviour must be either repeated, or of such nature that it is humiliating, offensive or intimidating to the person and creates a risk to their health and safety.

Work-Related Stress and Fatigue

There is often confusion between a challenge at work, and stress that is created by the workplace. While challenges at work can have a positive effect on a person’s work ethic, work-related stress is a health issue that can pose risks to psychological and physical health, leading to issues such as anxiety, low productivity, or illness.

Workplace fatigue is a state of physical and/or mental exhaustion which can reduce a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively. Consequentially, this can lead to errors and an increase in workplace incidents and injuries.

Providing Protection

Employers should be providing support to its employees and promoting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. This may include:

  • Identifying risks to mental health and wellbeing and implementing strategies to manage these;
  • Promoting early intervention and support;
  • Being clear on what is unacceptable behaviour;
  • Setting realistic hours of work and workloads;
  • Ensuring quality rest breaks;
  • Involving workers in decisions that may impact their health and safety;
  • Access to counselling services.

Message for Employers

The best way to ensure you support a mentally healthy workplace is to have a comprehensive HSMP and a Wellbeing Policy. If you require assistance to improve your businesses approach to mental wellbeing our Mental Health and Wellbeing Toolkit, found here is a great place to start.

Our team can also offer a one-hour training session, either in person or virtually at a cost of $1,000 plus GST, covering:

  • An overview of your mental health and wellbeing obligations, including documentation and reporting;
  • How to identify psychosocial risks;
  • What practical steps should be taken;
  • How to manage employees during this time, including support that can be offered; and
  • Practical tips on how to manage conflict in the workplace where bullying allegations have arisen and what your obligations are.

For more information on these services email:

Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law, health and safety and immigration topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.


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