When should HR come to a settlement with an employee with a mental illness?

At what point is it pragmatic to cease disciplinary processes and come to a settlement with an employee who has a mental illness?

There are a number of scenarios where it may be appropriate to seek to resolve a difficult employment situation with an employee who has a mental illness, according to Joydeep Hor, Founder and managing principal of People + Cultural Strategies.

They are premised on the notion that the employer has made efforts to date to accommodate and support the employee, and that the issue of any settlement is approached with sensitivity to the employee’s condition.

“One scenario is where, despite reasonable adjustments having been made, the problematic conduct is continuing, but the medical evidence is inconclusive as to the likelihood of any improvement of the underlying condition in the foreseeable future,” said Hor.

Another potentially problematic situation that might lend itself to a pragmatic resolution is where the employee has been unwilling over a prolonged period to co-operate over the provision of timely and informative medical documentation.

“This information is important to enable the employer to make a fair assessment of the nature of any reasonable adjustments and the capacity of the employee to perform the key requirements of the job,” said Hor.

“This may also extend to a situation where an employee is unwilling to acknowledge that their behaviour is problematic, despite the ongoing efforts of the employer in offering a supportive environment and its willingness to make reasonable adjustments.”

Finally, the escalation of conduct to a serious situation, for example involving potential threats to other employees, may warrant swift intervention to bring to an end the consequences of such behaviour, added Hor.

This is important for the health and safety of other employees, and to restore the equilibrium of the workforce in the short-term.