Find legal guidance and information on what your employer needs to know.
We have also gathered some additional FAQs that you may find helpful:
If I am struggling with a mental health issue, what will my company know?
Patient information is generally held under legal and ethical obligations of confidentiality. Information provided in confidence should not be used or disclosed in a form that might identify a patient without his or her consent. There are a number of important exceptions to this rule but it applies in most circumstances.
Professionals can share information without your consent if there is a risk of serious harm to you or to others, or there is a risk of a serious crime. For example, if someone tells their doctor that they are planning to hurt themselves or other people, the doctor could decide to share this information with someone, or contact the police.
In certain circumstances, a professional can share personal information if this is for the public good. Personal information can also be shared if this is required by law. For example, a court could order a doctor to give it to them.
There may be times when you cannot give consent for a professional to share information because you are unconscious or very unwell. This is called ‘lacking capacity’. In this situation, a doctor may be able to share information if this is in your best interests.
How does receiving mental health services link to work i.e. what are my rights and the legal impact?
If you need to take time off work, your employer should manage the situation in the same way as any other health related absence (and according to their organisational policy and procedures).
Your employer may have personal information about you, and will need to keep this information confidential. In rare situations, your employer may have to break confidentiality if they feel you are a risk to yourself or others. They may contact your GP or other health professionals to discuss the risks. Your employer should have a policy on this and you can ask your Human Resources department for a copy of it.
How does an EAP work and will they report back to my company on my concerns?
All health professionals are bound by rules of confidentiality and will need to meet professional, ethical and legal obligations.
What does ‘being sectioned mean’ and what is the impact?
In most cases, when people are treated in hospital or another mental health facility, they have agreed or volunteered to be there. You may be referred to as a “voluntary patient”.
However, there are cases when a person can be detained (also known as sectioned) under the Mental Health Act (1983) and treated without their agreement. The Mental Health Act (1983) is the main piece of legislation that covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder.
The Mental Health Act is structured in many sections. If someone says, “You are being sectioned under the Mental Health Act”, they mean you are detained according to a particular section of the Mental Health Act. In most cases, you will be told which section of the Mental Health Act applied in your case – for example, “You are detained under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act”.
People detained under the Mental Health Act need urgent treatment for a mental health disorder and are at risk of harm to themselves or others. Professionals are then bound by the legal obligations of the Act in relation to the mechanisms and timeframes for decision-making about care.