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Government framework for voluntary reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing: what is expected of employers?

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Following the 2017 Thriving at Work Review, the government has developed a framework to support large employers with recording and voluntarily reporting on disability, mental health and wellbeing.  The government hopes that transparency in this area will help drive the culture change which is needed to foster a more inclusive society.

Large employers (250 or more employees) are the focus of the framework, but it can also be used by smaller employees.  The framework recognises that collecting relevant data can be challenging for employers.  As a result, the first part (part A) of the framework centres on encouraging employers to provide information about their activities in relation to recruiting and retaining disabled people or in relation to supporting employees’ health and wellbeing.  It includes suggestions on what might be included:

  • For disability, it suggests providing (for example) details of organisational policies about recruiting and retaining disabled people, information on the role of networks and support groups, information on workplace adjustments and context to the results of part B (if the employer has data it can report).
  • For mental health and wellbeing, it suggests providing, amongst other things, information on employee take-up of mental health support offered by the organisation and details of training offered to employees on the subject of mental health.

Part B of the framework focuses on collecting and reporting on staff data.  On disability, it recommends reporting the percentage of individuals in the organisation who consider themselves to be disabled or have a long term physical or mental health condition.  On mental health and wellbeing, it recommends reporting the output of staff surveys that provide measures of employee wellbeing.  The framework includes recommended staff survey questions.  It is up to employers where to report all of this information, but the framework suggests annual reports may be the most suitable place.

The government hopes use of the framework will encourage monitoring of internal progress, improve employee engagement and retention and support employers to access a wider talent pool.  These aims are laudable but, in today’s busy times, it is unclear whether employers will voluntarily take up the challenge of reporting.  In a year or two’s time, might we see the framework become compulsory, if the government deems insufficient progress is being made?

The recruitment challenges arising from current Brexit uncertainty, and a restricted immigration regime for EEA nationals, may provide the impetus for some organisations to look at their strategies for recruiting and retaining staff with fresh eyes and with inclusivity in mind.  If your organisation is looking for inspiration, the framework includes a number of positive case studies promoting the benefits of being proactive in this area.