Depression…what is defined as a disability?

Given the strains of modern life it is not uncommon to find that many people suffer with a level of depression, whether it is mild, moderate or severe. What level of depression would be covered by the Equality Act 2010 to protect the employee from unlawful disability discrimination?

Under the Equality Act 2010, disability is defined as an impairment which is long term and has a substantial adverse effect on the person’s day to day activities. Each section of this definition is explained further, so long term is that it has or is likely to last at least 12 months, substantial is considered to be at least more than trivial.

So if the person is ‘disabled’ under the Equality Act 2010, what additional support or protection can they receive? One of main benefits is that the employer needs to made reasonable adjustments for someone who is disabled. What is reasonable can vary vastly depending on the needs of the employee and the ability of the employer.

For someone with depression, it is worth considering what would help or alleviate the additional difficulties of work with the disability, for example, this could be avoiding commuting at rush hour, starting working slightly later and finishing later, short breaks away from the work station, change in use of capability procedure, providing stress management training or therapy etc….

The list could go on…but it is always worth remembering that the adjustment needs to be reasonable for the employee and employer.