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Mindful Business Charter aims to improve workplace wellbeing amongst lawyers

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A number of City law firms and banking legal teams have joined forces to tackle long and unpredictable working hours in an attempt to improve lawyers’ wellbeing and mental health.

The Mindful Business Charter, fittingly launched on World Mental Health Day, was drawn up by Barclays alongside law firms Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard.

Each signatory has committed to a variety of principles which aim to improve communication, respect for rest periods and the delegation of tasks. These improvements will be achieved through encouraging dialling-in to meetings where possible, not copying people into emails unnecessarily, and making clear that late night and weekend emails do not need to be read immediately. These principles will be monitored by groups within each organisation.

The Charter aims to remove the “unnecessary sources of workplace stress and promote better mental health and wellbeing in the legal community” as well as acknowledging that there will always be “times and transactions when long hours and stress cannot be avoided”. The Charter has been supported by mental health charity Mind, the Law Society, LawCare and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

The Mindful Business Charter, together with the recently published “Guide to Mental Health” by Mind and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), are testament to the increasing resources available to employers to combat mental health issues in the workplace.

In 2018, the CIPD found that poor mental health was the most common cause of long-term sickness absence in UK workplaces and that stress-related absence had increased in nearly two-fifths of organisations surveyed. Mental health remains a very large elephant in the room in most workplaces and consequently any proactive steps that employers can take to acknowledge these issues and commit to improving employees’ mental wellbeing will not only lead to a happier workforce but should also reduce the amount of long-term sickness absence.