Policy resource kit
Workplace mental health policies help set expectations across the business and establish shared goals. They also demonstrate a commitment to worker wellbeing. Documenting your organisation’s approach to mental health is an important step in creating and managing a mentally healthy workplace.
- Workplace policies help set expectations across the business. They clearly define what psychological hazards are and what you will do to manage them.
- Businesses should have a mental health policy, an anti-bullying policy, an anti-discrimination and harassment policy, and a flexible work policy. This shows a commitment to worker wellbeing and positive workplace culture.
- All NSW employers are required by law to have a return to work program.
- There are resources you can use to create your policies.
Mental health policy
The aim of a mental health policy is to provide guidance on the responsibilities of both workers and leaders. It should be specific to your workplace.
At a minimum, a workplace mental health policy should include:
a description of the policy’s purpose
who is covered by the policy
what is required by law
a clear explanation of psychological hazards, expectations and behaviour standards (e.g. what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour)
references to supporting and/or relevant procedures
how complaints or issues are managed and the consequences of not following the policy
a process for monitoring and reviewing the policy itself (and the supporting procedures).
You should also think about:
creating goals for the policy and how it supports your organisation's broader goals
how you will engage the workplace, giving everyone an opportunity to give feedback
the way the policy is written – make sure it is in plain English and tailored to your workers
how you will implement the policy and ensure that is it accessible – be sure to include it in your induction process for new workers
how you will manage, review and update the policy, for example when a law changes.
Need help getting started on your mental health policy? Download a free template from Heads Up.
Workplace bullying is a serious issue and is a common workplace factor that can lead to mental ill-health.
It is important that businesses develop and implement an anti-bullying policy that clearly identifies the expected behaviours and consequences of not complying.
The policy should be developed in consultation with employees and should include:
a clear statement that the organisation has zero tolerance of workplace bullying in any form and is committed to preventing workplace bullying as part of providing a safe and healthy work environment
the standard of behaviour expected from everyone in the workplace
the process for reporting and responding to incidents of workplace bullying
the process for managing reports of workplace bullying.
Download the SafeWork Australia guide to preventing and responding to workplace bullying for an example of an anti-bullying policy. Then read the SafeWork NSW code of practice to learn your obligations under NSW law.
Anti-discrimination and harassment policy
Everyone has the right to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment and to be treated with dignity and respect.
Having an anti-discrimination and harassment policy can help your team understand what kind of behaviour will and will not be tolerated. The policy should cover:
employer and employee rights and responsibilities
the relevant workplace legislations
accepted standards of behaviour
the consequences for unacceptable conduct
the process for raising and investigating complaints.
Download a free workplace discrimination and harassment policy template from the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Flexible work policy
Giving employees flexibility with where and how they do their work can help create a mentally healthy workplace. This can include flexible start and finish times, job sharing or working from home.
A policy is a good way to show your business supports flexibility and achieving work-life balance. It should include:
consultation with employees
employee legal rights for requesting flexible work arrangements
the types of flexible arrangements available in your workplace
the process for making and responding to flexible work requests
how agreed flexible arrangements will be monitored and reviewed.
Fair Work has a flexible working arrangements guide which includes tips for creating a flexible work policy.
Return to work program
A return to work program is a formal policy that outlines the procedures for supporting employees to return to the workplace after a physical or psychological work-related injury and illness.
This is a requirement for all NSW employers.
The State Insurance Regulatory Authority offers guidelines to help employers and employees understand and comply with their legal obligations. It also has steps to develop and implement a return to work plan.
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