Your Rights as an Employee with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a mental health condition that affects roughly 1-2% of the population, as stated by OCD Action. With tomorrow marking World Mental Health Day, we discuss what it is and how it affects people in the workplace.

Employees may feel they can’t disclose their mental health due to workplace stigma, so we explore how and why they should. Furthermore, we examine employers’ support and how employees can request this.

You may be entitled to claim if your employer fails to comply with your employee rights. Get in touch with us now to discuss your case and seek advice on your next steps. You can speak with us today; simply:

What We Cover

  1. What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
  2. Disclosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  3. Can An Employee Ask For Reasonable Adjustments?
  4. Make A Claim To An Employment Tribunal

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

The NHS states that obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a condition that leads to a person having obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. The obsessive thoughts are unwanted and unpleasant, making the individual feel anxious. As for compulsive behaviour, this is repetitive and done to relieve unpleasant thoughts temporarily.

In the workplace, this could present itself as a compulsion to check and re-check documents for errors continuously. The act may be caused by an obsession for correctness with the employee’s work. Although this may appear harmless, the need to constantly check over work could decrease productivity. This could lead to the employee falling behind and missing targets.

Furthermore, under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA), a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a long-term, substantial effect on their ability to function normally. Therefore, this condition is considered a disability by the law.

Disclosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Mental health at work can be overlooked due to workplace stigma. Employees may be reluctant to share their obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis with their employer for fear of discrimination. However, the EqA 2010 prevents employers from being able to discriminate against a disabled employee. What’s more, although it’s not a legal requirement to disclose this information, it could be beneficial.

If an employee discloses their diagnosis, it could help the employer understand their circumstances. Additionally, once an employer is aware of this, they owe a legal duty of care to offer specific support. The support they must provide will be outlined further in the next section, but the same applies during the interview process.

Should an employee decide they want to disclose their condition with their employer, they could first arrange a meeting. This could be with their manager, HR or someone else appropriate that they feel comfortable talking to. During the meeting, the employee could discuss their diagnosis, offer possible remedies, and be open-minded about suggestions from their employer.

Can An Employee Ask For Reasonable Adjustments?

If an employer learns of an employee’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, they could be legally obliged to provide reasonable adjustments. These employee rights come about when a qualifying factor puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person.

This is outlined in the EqA 2010 and applies both during the interview process and when the individual gets a job. Factors such as cost, effectiveness and practicality will help determine if an adjustment is reasonable. Should an adjustment be agreed upon, the employer must pay for it. 

However, since each case is unique, the adjustments required will vary. Despite this, examples of adjustments that could be deemed reasonable, include:

  • Allowing an employee to spread their breaks out
  • Introducing emotional support animals
  • Factoring in therapy appointments to the individual’s work schedule

If an employee wants to request any adjustments, it’s advisable to discuss this with their employer first. This helps the employer understand the situation and potentially come to an agreement with the employee.

Following this, the employee should make a request, whether in writing, via email or through a formal company process. The request could include suggestions of what could help and how this could be done reasonably.

Make A Claim To An Employment Tribunal

Supposing an employer failed to provide reasonable adjustments, this could be considered disability discrimination. An informal or formal complaint could be made to the employer if the employee feels this is the case. However, a claim could be brought before an employment tribunal if the matter remains unresolved.

With World Mental Health Day just around the corner, it’s important to continue raising awareness to reduce stigma. If you think your employer has discriminated against you because of your disability, get in touch. We can assess the validity of your case and help you through the legal process if required. To get in touch: