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Reasonable Workplace Adjustments for those living with Mental HealthExamples for Employers

The number of people experiencing mental health concerns in our communities continues to grow at a rapid rate. Is this because people are feeling more confident and less ashamed to speak up about the challenges they face? Or could the rise of mental health concerns be attributed to a multitude of things occurring in the world, such as the ever-increasing cost of living or on-going impacts of the pandemic?

It is likely you or someone you know has experienced a mental health concern. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) latest national study on mental health indicated that 42% of Australians aged 16 -85 years have experienced a mental health concern at some point in their life. Given the fact we all spend a significant period of our lives in the workplace, we need to put measures in place to ensure we are creating a mentally healthy workplace and implement reasonable adjustments to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of all team members  is front of mind. Although the main responsibility falls on the employer, there is a lot we can do as colleagues to support one another in the workplace. Learn how to be a mental health ally at work.


Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health can be debilitating and often a battle people face alone. People should not have to hide the challenges they are facing, and it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of all team members. The Equality Act of 2010 states that an employer must make reasonable adjustments for workers, contractors or job applicants who are living with disability, which encompasses mental health conditions.  As an employer you have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments when:

  • you know, or could reasonably be expected to know, someone is living with disability
  • a team member or job applicant living with disability asks for adjustments
  • someone who lives with disability is having difficulty with any part of their job
  • someone’s absence record, sickness record or delay in returning to work is because of, or linked to, their disability.


Besides being the right thing to do, it is in the employers best financial interest to create a mentally healthy workplace. Based on a report released by PwC and Beyond Blue, untreated mental health conditions are costing Australian workplaces $10.9 billion per year – $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in presenteeism and $146 million in compensation claims.

What are Reasonable Adjustments?

When you employ a person living with disability, they very often do not need any specific workplace changes to be effective in their job. For those that do, some form of reasonable adjustment will help them overcome the impact of their disability and build a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

It is very easy to make workplace adjustments to remove barriers to employment when needed. Many workplace adjustments involve applying good HR practice that you would do for any new team member. For instance, changes to employment processes can give a person a more equal chance at being recruited and promoted. To learn more about how reasonable adjustments can help to create a more diverse workplace, touch base with atWork Australia today.


Practical Examples of Workplace Adjustments

Flexible hours

Offering flexible working hours enables the person to have time off to keep appointments with healthcare practitioners.

Remote work options

Giving team members  the option to work a portion of the week from home can reduce anxiety and stress of being in a busy environment.

Quiet areas

It can be undervalued just how beneficial it can be to have designated quiet areas in a workplace. Regardless if a team member lives with a mental health condition or any other disability, having the ability to remove yourself from a stressful, loud environment to take a minute to clear your mind is incredibly important for all individuals.

Ergonomic setups

Ergonomics is a critical element in ensuring the health and wellbeing of all team members. A poorly constructed workstation can result in bad posture, additional aches and pains which in turn creates unnecessary stress.

Mental health days

As previously mentioned, 45% of Australians are expected to experience a mental health concern at some point in their life.  This is a condition that truly impacts everyone, either personally or through a friend or family member. Mental health concerns are a major contributor to team absenteeism. Employers offering mental health days can have multiple positive benefits. Firstly, it gives a team member an opportunity to take a break and step away from the workplace for a day to reduce stress. Secondly, it highlights to team members that the company values team wellbeing.

Wellness programs

Having wellness programs in place gives team members the opportunity to speak to professionals about concerns they may be facing in their personal and professional lives. atWork Australia provides Wellness Services to support clients and team members before and during employment. Read more about atWork Australia’s Wellness Services here.

Mental health awareness training

Mental health is becoming more prevalent in the workplace, and it is important to be aware of signs that a colleague might be having a difficult time. While it’s important for team members to have access to professional support, often it’s our colleagues who are there in the moment, who may witness a stressful incident. Having the ability to provide support or comfort a colleague in a time of need can be very beneficial. atWork Australia have published a great blog that outlines how to be a mental health ally at work. Additionally, atWork Australia deliver their Diversity Awareness Training, providing education on a range of topics, including, how to be aware of mental health in the workplace. Stay up to date with the upcoming sessions here.

Implementing Adjustments Successfully

Workplace adjustments are going to look different for every individual. So, to ensure they are implemented successfully, and they have the desired impact, make sure you continue to have open conversations with your team members  as they will be able to guide you on what best works for them. Determining the most effective adjustments may take time. So, be patient and approach every discussion with an open mind and from a position of wanting to provide support.



Everyday businesses around the world spend an enormous amount of resources on how to adjust or modify procedures and processes to improve productivity. Investing in and supporting your number one resource, your people, seems like a logical place to start. If your organisation is looking for support to create  a more inclusive workplace that is supportive of people who live with mental health conditions, get in touch with atWork Australia today.

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