Managing Mental Health Risks in the Workplace

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19th Nov 2024



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A mentally healthy workplace is increasingly recognised as essential to a productive, safe, and legally compliant working environment.  Join Health and Safety and Employment law experts from Russell McVeagh and gain insights into the myriad obligations owed to employees and other workers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, Employment Relations Act 2000, Human Rights Act 1993 and Privacy Act 2020.

This course will provide in depth analysis of the relevant legal frameworks as well as practical insights into how to lawfully navigate mental health challenges in the context of employment processes and ensuring health and safety obligations are met.

We will focus on the key psychosocial stressors identified by WorkSafe, including bullying, work-related stress, harassment, and fatigue.  We will also provide an analysis of employer obligations to employees who present to work with mental ill-health unrelated to the workplace.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 as they relate to mental health
  • Understand an employer’s obligations to employees with mental health concerns, including under the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Privacy Act 2020
  • How to ensure you have the right policies in place to support best practice when dealing with mental health challenges
  • Comply with good faith obligations when performance managing an employee with a mental health concern
  • Identify and apply natural justice principles and good faith considerations when disciplining an employee with a mental health concern
  • How to manage an investigation into complex bullying investigations, having regard to employer obligations and health and safety considerations
  • Understand medical incapacity processes in the context of employee mental ill-health
  • Identify “red flags” for a potential personal grievance claim and best practice to avoid one occurring when dealing with an employee with mental health concerns
  • Understand WorkSafe’s approach to mental health risks and when and how to notify a mental health and safety issue to WorkSafe
  • How to respond to a WorkSafe investigation, including how to manage an internal investigation at the same time
  • Understand the potential for enforcement action, including improvement notices, prosecution, and sentencing

Featuring Our Speakers






Rose Powell

Senior Associate

Russell McVeagh

Rose is a Senior Associate in Russell McVeagh’s Litigation team and a specialist in employment law and health and safety matters.  Rose regularly advises on all aspects of employment relationships, including personal grievances and other litigation.  She has particular experience advising on workplace investigations, including advice on complex bullying and harassment allegations.  Rose also advises on performance management, medical incapacity and disciplinary processes, and on large-scale business restructurings and redundancies, independent contractor issues, and the impact of corporate transactions on employees.  Rose’s recent experience includes:

  • Advising on complex bullying, discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment allegations.
  • Advising on the management of workplace investigations including natural justice considerations and balancing the various obligations owed to different parties.
  • Advising on disciplinary, performance management and medical incapacity processes including where there are mental health concerns.
  • Drafting and advising on employment agreements and workplace policies including those relating to bullying, discrimination and harassment and the protection of whistleblowers in the workplace.
  • Advice in relation to compliance with the full spectrum of legislation relevant to employment relationships, including health and safety, the Human Rights Act, the Holidays Act, the Privacy Act and whistleblower obligations.

Rose began her legal career in 2012, specialising in employment law after several years working more broadly across the areas of civil litigation, family and employment law. Before qualifying as a lawyer, she had a previous career working in marine insurance with clients based in New Zealand and the Pacific. Her diverse background and broad experience helps her to provide strategic, pragmatic advice to clients operating across all industries and sectors.






Mark Campbell

Special Counsel, Litigation

Russell McVeagh

Mark is a special counsel at Russell McVeagh with a wide experience in both contentious and non-contentious matters and a particular interest in health and safety.  He has represented clients at all levels of the New Zealand court system.

Mark works closely with public and private sector clients on a diverse range of health and safety issues.  His experience ranges from advising directors and other executives on their due diligence obligations and helping clients understand and comply with their health and safety obligations in complex situations, through to representing clients during formal interviews with investigators, seeking enforceable undertakings and representing clients in court on health and safety charges brought by WorkSafe, Maritime New Zealand, and the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Some of Mark’s recent work includes assisting a foreign-based multinational engage with WorkSafe after a fatal accident involving one of its machines, advising on health and safety considerations in the event of a future natural disaster, conducting a legal compliance review for the principal of a significant infrastructure project after an accident, and representing clients being prosecuted for health and safety charges.

Mark also acts for interested parties in coronial enquiries into fatal accidents.

Mark brings a pragmatic and solutions-focused lens to health and safety issues.  Practical advice often depends on understanding detailed technical and operational considerations, which may require input from a range of experts such as engineers, Zero Harm and HR teams as well lawyers.  Mark is adept at working with the business to produce strategic advice.

Mark has published a number of legal articles on public law, privacy law, criminal law, and health and safety, which have been cited by courts in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.  He is a co-author of the New Zealand chapter in Insurance Litigation 2022: A Chambers Global Practice Guide.

Who should attend?

Senior management professionals and Human Resources personnel who would like an in-depth analysis of how mental health challenges impact workplaces from the perspective of Health and Safety and Employment law, and an insight into how to manage those challenges in practice.

Topics Covered

  • Obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • Employment Law Obligations to Employees
  • Managing Employment Processes when Mental Health is an Issue
  • Managing Bullying Investigations
  • Personal Grievances