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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I sent a text message to a friend threatening suicide. I was

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I sent a text message to a friend threatening suicide. I was sectioned for about one hour and given the all clear by a psychiatrist. My friend says she has to inform my employer. Does my employer have a right to this information and what action could they take when they receive it?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello why does she think she has to inform the employer?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I work in a local church where she is a parishioner. She told the priest about the message. He called a group of parishioners together and they decided it was best to inform the diocese who are my employer.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, sorry I was travelling by the time you had replied. There is nothing stopping your friend from sharing this information with your employer. They do not owe you any formal duty to keep such information confidential, they are not an organisation with data protection duties so if they want to inform the employer they can do so. Once the employer receives such information they can consider if it is relevant and if they need to do anything about it. In terms of what they can do it really depends on how they believe it affects your job. First of all you may have additional rights under disability discrimination laws, if it is considered that you have a disability. Mental illnesses can also amount to a disability so you could be protected based on what you are suffering from. In the circumstances the employer should act in your best interests, for example they should consider your welfare and see if you need any help with this, such as time off work or any adjustments in the workplace to assist you. This should not result in any disciplinary action as it is a matter outside of work and also in terms of dismissal it should not get to that unless you are not capable of performing your job. Even then dismissal should only be considered a last resort, but in this case I should not worry too much about that This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on disability and how to determine if you are disabled and the right you have, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’. The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”. I will break this definition down:Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.) If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination, which means that they must not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. In addition, their employer would have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if they are likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage when compared to non-disabled employees. What amounts to ‘reasonable adjustments’ can have a wide interpretation and often depends on the individual circumstances. Below are some examples:making adjustments to work premises;allocating some of the employee’s duties to others;transferring the employee to fill an existing suitable vacancy;altering the employee’s hours of work;allowing the employee to be absent during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment connected to their disability;acquiring or modifying specialist equipment;providing supervision or other support. If someone who is disabled is being treated unfavourably because of their disability or their employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments it would potentially amount to disability discrimination. The first step would be to raise a formal grievance. The next step would be to consider whether a claim for disability discrimination should be made in an employment tribunal (the time limit for claiming is only 3 months from the date of the alleged discriminatory act taking place).