Employment law firm Stephensons has backed suggestions from Asda chair and former M&S chief, Lord Rose of Monewden, that employers should be required by law to support their employees’ health.
Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment law at Stephensons, said: “The conversation around health and wellbeing in the workplace has been amplified over recent years and if anything, I expect this to continue to get louder. As we have seen in Justin Rose’s comments, there is a clear argument for the introduction of specific legislation which puts the onus on the employer to make better provision for staff wellbeing.”
As reported in The Times, Lord Rose proposed that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting, where these factors are used to assess organisations, could play a bigger part in supporting the overall health of employees.
At the first meeting of the Times Health Commission, Lord Rose said: “In companies at the moment – of which I chair a few – we are being bombarded with environmental, social, and governance (ESG… before, it was known as enlightened self-interest because we kept our employees healthy because if our employees were healthy, our business was healthy,
“We have to fill in all sorts of forms and do all sorts of things, some of which are good on things like gender, and on pay, and on diversity. Why don’t we lobby to say that also in that process as employers, we have a legal obligation to do something about our employee’s health?”
Richardson explained that many organisations, both large and small, offer a range of measures and benefits to support the health and wellbeing of their employees. From detailed wellbeing policies in large scale organisations, to smaller gestures such as the provision of fresh fruit on a daily or weekly basis.
He added: “As it stands, the picture on the ground in workplaces across the country, is a rather blurry one. Many firms are simply not doing enough to support their employees to make better health choices and specific legislation may force the hand of businesses to up their game.”