Other considerations – the mental health and wellbeing of BAME staff and others
Undeniably and understandably BAME staff, as well as those staff who are identified as being at a higher risk, are going to have high levels of stress and anxiety. For some, this may become of such severity that those staff should be considered to be disabled under the Equality Act 2010. The question as to whether someone is disabled is one that should be answered in conjunction with appropriate medical advice. But the question about how to support any staff suffering with stress and anxiety should not be left until that stage. Proactive steps need to be taken and expert advice obtained on what support measures should be put in place. We know that many NHS organisations are already giving the mental wellbeing of their staff the highest priority.
From our perspective, we would ask managers to be mindful that stress and anxiety is likely to feature in how an individual reacts to questions about the level of risk to their health and the impact on their duties. The conversations with some staff may not be easy to have and may be met with challenge.
For those staff who’s stress and anxiety is such that it would qualify as a disability, reasonable adjustments will need to be considered to the processes that you are applying.
An additional point to consider – it might be worth writing to all staff, asking them to come forward if they have any health conditions that they think you ought to be aware of, assuring them that such information is being given in the strictest confidence. You want to make sure that you are taking the appropriate measures to ensure their health and safety.