Small business operators face unique challenges in managing their workers’ mental health as well as their own – in an environment where the economic, social and individual, importance of mental health has never been more prominent, according to a new report from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
The new report from the ACCI, Small Business, Mental Health; navigating the complex landscape, highlights the the myriad of intersecting workplace regulations small businesses must contend with.
The report reveals:
- Small business owners self-report stress levels and rates of mental ill-health that are higher now than in comparison to before the pandemic.
- The current regulatory landscape relevant to managing and supporting mental health at work is increasingly complex, noting there are five primary pieces of legislation to comply with.
- An increasing trend of regulation, coupled with the increasing pressure COVID has created on small business owners and their employees, is not sustainable.
- Small businesses are not receiving the compliance assistance and general support that they want.
- A broad comprehensive strategy and further targeted support is needed to promote increased employment and participation of those with a mental health disorder.
The report’s findings were supported by a series of surveys by ACCI and our members throughout 2020 and 2021.
ACCI Director WHS and Health Policy Jennifer Low said the COVID-19 pandemic had stretched already thin resources to breaking point.
“Small business owners have had to juggle managing the mental health and safety of their employees, while being mindful of their own mental health, all within what was an already complex operating environment,” she said.
“We need governments to not only provide mental health services and support but to acknowledge and address the fact that regulations surrounding the management of mental health in Australian businesses are complex and daunting for employers, particularly small business.”
“If action is not taken to streamline and simplify workplace regulation in the context of managing mental health, psychological risk and injury as well as employing people with disability, we will only continue to see poor health and productivity outcomes for businesses and individuals.
ACCI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar urged the government to offer support for small businesses, and to find ways to boost overall workforce participation.
“It is critical that governments work with small business to get the legal and regulatory environments right – when the implications have such significant consequences on the mental health of individuals and our economy.”
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