HR 22 February 2018
Do employees need to disclose that they take anti-depressants?
As a new study claims more people suffering from mental health conditions should be prescribed anti-depressants, Health Assured CEO David Price helps employers understand when staff are entitled to maintain privacy over their medication. A study carried out by scientists has revealed that anti-depressants are more efficient than previously thought at reducing the symptoms of depression. The use of anti-depressants has soared in recent years, with 64.7m prescriptions made in England in 2016. As use increases, the likelihood is that nearly all workplaces will have an employee who is suffering from a mental health condition and has been prescribed anti-depressants to reduce their symptoms. Employers are likely to want to be informed about the use of anti-depressants so they can manage this, but employees do have a right to privacy. However, in certain industries they will be required to disclose their use of prescription medication. This will mostly be prevalent in industries where the possible side effects of the drugs could cause a health and safety risk to the employee themselves and others around them, such as increased fatigue or tiredness. A requirement to disclose will usually be contained in the company alcohol and drugs policy or in the employee’s individual contract of employment. This requirement should indicate who the employee has to make the disclosure to make them feel more comfortable about approaching this person. It will also be important that employers are aware of the use of anti-depressants because depression can be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 where it causes a significant adverse effect on the employee’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Employers who are experiencing a situation where their staff are showing a change in personality, low mood or a change in their normal behaviour, such as periods of increased absence, can invite the employee to a meeting to discuss whether they require any workplace support.