Whilst all managers hope it will never happen, some employees may reach crisis point and experience suicidal thoughts. In this situation it’s vital that employees get the help and support they need and are given the time, space and encouragement to do so.
- A collection of blogs to help you help your employees
The possibility of managing an employee who has reached this point in their lives is often not something employers have thought about before. Whilst every situation will be different, here are three things it may be helpful to bear in mind:
Sometimes the first person an employee discloses their distress to is their manager. Such conversations will require sensitivity and appropriate handling. Being prepared to have such a conversation with an employee and thinking ahead to what immediate action might be needed to support them can help. You may want to be prepared to discuss sources of support and help the employee to reach out if needed.
If an employee is subject to an ongoing process, such as a disciplinary procedure, bear in mind that it is unlikely to be possible to proceed with this safely as scheduled in light of the employee’s mental health difficulties. You should contact us to seek advice on the specific facts of your case as to the next steps.
From an Employment Law perspective, an employee who is having suicidal thoughts may be considered disabled under the Equality Act. As such it’s important to be alert to discrimination and harassment issues and to bear in mind that the business may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments.
A Call for Compassion
Ultimately, managing an employee who has expressed suicidal thoughts will call for understanding and compassion from employers. This can go a long way not only to helping an employee in their time of need but also in protecting your business from employment tribunal claims about the way they have been treated.
If you would like further information on suicide or contact details for a source of support, you may wish to start with www.samaritans.org
If you have an employment law matter you would like help with, please contact us.