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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Mental health & wellbeing

Duty of Care

Every employer has a responsibility to ensure their employees’ safety and wellbeing, also known as their duty of care. This means doing everything reasonably possible to protect them and following health and safety and employment laws.

There are many ways for you to demonstrate your duty of care. Providing a safe working environment and tools to do the job, training your staff and giving them time off from work to rest. Making sure employees have a platform to talk with their managers is also important.

It is possible to breach your duty of care if you did not do everything reasonably possible to keep your employee safe. Employees are also responsible for their own health and wellbeing, for example, they are allowed to refuse to do work that is unsafe without fear of disciplinary action.

Wellness Action Plans (WAPs)

Wellness Action Plans are a simple and effective way of supporting your employees’ mental wellbeing at work. It allows them to consider how they currently feel at work and create practical steps to help them cope better. It can be used at any time, not just when they are already struggling. It’s good for everyone to have one, so steps are in place if/when they start to struggle.
Find more information about WAPs, including templates and guides for managers, here.

Flexible Working Policies

The traditional working pattern has changed a lot this year. There is a need, more than ever, for employees to have access to flexible working patterns. If you don’t already have flexible working policies in place, this is something to consider implementing.

Employees have the right to ask for a flexible working request if they have worked for you for at least 26 weeks and they have not submitted another flexible working request in the last 12 months. All eligible requests must be considered and a decision must be made within 12 weeks.

Find more information about Flexible Working on the ACAS website here.

Managing People Remotely

Many of us have been working from home for a while now. A line manager’s job looks different for lots of people and some may find it difficult without the ‘real life’ interactions we’ve been so used to.

Setting clear expectations with your team will make it easier for everyone to be on the same page with the goals you are working towards. Focusing on these rather than daily activity will give your team a sense of autonomy and empowerment in their work.

Make sure you are regularly checking in with your team. This will give everyone an opportunity to talk about how they’re feeling about work and more generally. This also helps to build trust with your team.

Providing reliable tools and technology will make life a lot easier for your team, and creating an inclusive online community using programmes like Microsoft Teams will help everyone feel closer.

You might want to consider a communication strategy – how online meetings work, how often you have them, what channels of communication you’re using. All of these points will help to build a closer team, even when you are physically far apart.

CIPD have also created a list of top 10 tips for managing a remote team, which you may find useful.

Spotting mental health challenges in your team and how to address them

More people are working from home, and meeting with your team virtually can make it more difficult to spot when someone in your team is struggling.
Having regular check ins with your staff via video call (or in person if Government guidelines allow) is a good way to get a feel for how they’re doing. Some things to watch out for are changes in their mood, or how they interact with their colleagues.

Their work output and motivation may have dropped, or they might be struggling to make decisions. They might appear quite disorganised, or tired and anxious.

There are lots of ways to help someone who is struggling. The mental health charity, Mind, have created a guide on how to help colleagues who are experiencing a mental health problem.

Menopause - let's talk about it

World Menopause Month took place in October - a subject which should be talked about much more but isn’t because of stigma and taboo attached to it. That, and many people may just not know how to broach the topic.

According to research by the Wellbeing of Women group, 900,000 women have had to leave their jobs due to the effect of menopause symptoms, such as anxiety, poor concentration and irregular and heavy bleeding. To combat this, the ‘Menopause Workplace Pledge’ campaign was launched on 4th October 2021, asking employers to take positive steps in offering employees support.

The pledge shows a commitment by employers to:

  • Recognise that the menopause can be an issue in the workplace and support is needed for employees experiencing it
  • Talk openly, positively and respectfully about the menopause
  • Actively support and inform employees affected by the menopause

The Wellbeing of Women Pledge campaign, being run in partnership with Hello! Magazine and Bupa has been joined by big name employers such as Tesco, PWC and Santander.

Tesco, for example have created a guide focusing on menopause, for all staff. They have focused on education, building awareness and help and support for front line managers. Various events have already taken place, promoting and educating on menopause through means such as sharing experiences and spotlighting stories from colleagues at all levels. They have even worked on a new uniform design, set to be launched in January next year, designed specifically with menopausal people in mind.

PWC, another employer that has made the pledge, encourages employers to consider how best to support those going through menopause, by engaging with them and asking what they want and need. The clear message is that designing policies and procedures in isolation of the staff who will benefit from them is not the way to resolve the issue.

Caroline Nokes, MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee made the benefits of such steps clear by pointing out that this effects people near or at the peak of their careers and failing to manage it effectively means the loss of senior talent, and important role models for young workers.

This is alongside an inquiry conducted by the Women and Equalities Committee which was open between July and September this year scrutinising the current legal protection and workplace practices, offered to people going through the menopause, against discrimination. This is part of the government commitment to conduct research into ‘what works to improve reproductive health, across their life ..’ and ‘develop indicators relating to women’s health experience and impact on their work’.

Taking pro-active steps now, rather than waiting to see what legislative steps are going to be taken, is a move many organisations are taking, and by publicly signing the pledge are making their commitment to equality known.

We may not all be able to do what larger organisations have the resources to do, but we can all try and start that education and raising awareness process. Encouraging and having the conversations. Now is the time to do our bit.


Menopause is understood as the time during a person’s life when menstruation periods permanently stop. Officially, it is defined as occurring when there have been no periods for 12 consecutive months and no other biological or physiological cause can be identified. Also referred to as the ‘change of life’, this can cause a chain reaction of physical and psychological side-effects to a person’s body, some of which can last for a number of years.

It is therefore important that organisations have a clear and open system for supporting individuals who are going through the menopause, ensuring that any worker who needs additional support feels able to approach management on the issue and are fully aware of the steps that can be taken by the company on their behalf.

We have created a how to guide on how to support employees through menopause, and included a template menopause policy, should your organisation wish to implement one.

Further Links & Resources

SAMH – Scottish Association for Mental Health: Wellbeing Assessment. This is a great tool for your team to use to understand their own wellbeing better.

SAMH have just launched a new service, Time For You, for frontline workers in Scotland. It provides instant access to free online and virtual mental health support, across three levels of support. You can find out more on their website.

Mind – Taking Care of Your Staff. This page contains helpful links for managers to use when considering how to look after your team’s wellbeing.

#NeverMoreNeeded – UK wide campaign to remind funders, the government, and the public just how important the voluntary sector is. Using the hashtag in your social media posts and exploring what else has been posted is a fun way to expand your network and see what other organisations have been doing in 2020.

CIPD – People Managers’ Guide to Mental Health – The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development created a guide in 2018 for People Managers, all about the mental health and wellbeing of staff members

Last modified on 23 March 2022
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