What rights does an employee have when it comes to mental health?

Oct 20, 2014

Australian employers are legally bound to provide a physically and mentally health workplace, ensuring that the work environment does not harm the mental wellbeing of employees or aggravate an existing condition.

Employees also have rights when it comes to the workplace – though most workers are probably unaware of them all in detail.

Employees experiencing a mental health condition are protected under certain laws against discrimination in the workplace, particularly under the national Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and equivalent state and territory laws. These laws ensure that people with disabilities – including in an employment context – cannot be discriminated against, harassed or victimised.

From a legal standpoint, a disability includes mental health conditions which are temporary or permanent, mental health conditions in the past, present or future, and mental health conditions that are actual or just assumed.

On occasions, discrimination does exist, but there are laws in place which are designed to provide people with protection from any form of discrimination.

There are several situations in which workers with a mental health condition could face discrimination, such as:

  • During the recruitment process, in advertising, interviewing and selecting candidates.
  • When determining the terms and conditions of employment such as pay rates, work hours and leave.
  • In selecting or rejecting employees for promotion, transfer and training.
  • In the form of dismissal, demotion and retrenchment.

In addition, once an employee informs an employer that he has a mental health condition, that information cannot be disclosed to anyone else without consent, to ensure the protection of privacy.


Create better workplace health: register with Heads Up

To discover how you can implement change and build a happier, healthier and more productive workplace,register for Heads Up, a joint initiative of Beyond Blue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA).

Heads Up on LinkedIn 

If you would like more information and resources about how to create a more mentally healthy workplace, please visit our LinkedIn company page, which is regularly updated with stories and links related to the issue.

If you would like to join the discussion about a mentally healthy workplace, please visit our LinkedIn group page and become part of the conversation.



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