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Supporting employees who may find Mother’s Day difficult.

March 8, 2024

It is Mother’s Day this Sunday… a lovely opportunity to celebrate mums and a day where many look forward to receiving a card (home-made ones are the best), pretty spring flowers and perhaps even a breakfast in bed. 

However, it is important for employers to remember that occasions like Mother’s Day can be difficult and upsetting for some staff for many reasons, including: those who may have lost their mum, have strained relations with them, or are unable to be with them; those who may have lost a child or have suffered a miscarriage; those going through fertility treatment and wanting to be a mum.  

‘Special’ days like Mother’s Day can be a “trigger” to an employee’s stress, mental health and wellbeing.  We are more frequently seeing companies sending marketing emails to customers in advance of these days where you can ‘opt out’ of receiving related emails, but it isn’t that easy to ‘opt out’ in the workplace.  Whilst the day itself is a Sunday, and many are not actually at work, the run up to it and days afterwards can still mean the workplace is a particularly stressful environment for some.

Many employers find it difficult to know how best to support employees with stress and their mental health.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has useful guidance for employers on managing workplace stress [Work-related stress and how to manage it: overview – HSE] and as part of its Work Right campaign it suggests steps that can be taken in connection with preventing work related stress and promoting, supporting and sustaining good mental health in the workplace [Working Minds Employers – Work Right to keep Britain safe]. These are:-

Reach Out – employers need to talk about mental health and stress at work to employees both individually and as a team.  

Recognise – learn to recognise the signs of stress, such as taking time off, arriving later for work, being twitchy or nervous, mood swings, being withdrawn, loss of motivation, commitment and confidence, increased emotional reactions, such as being more tearful or aggressive.

Respond – employers and managers need to listen to what is being said by staff and agree any action points with them.  If concerned someone is experiencing stress or a mental health problem, they should be encouraged to talk about it, whether to a manager, colleague, GP, Occupational Health etc.

Reflect – monitor and review the actions taken and not taken.

Make it Routine – employers should take regular opportunities to check-in on mental health and stress levels.  The most important thing being that employers make time available for line managers and employees to have these open and honest conversations.

These steps are worth thinking about when considering how best to support employees who may be struggling with Mother’s Day.  Particularly: Recognising it may be a difficult time and looking out for signs of stress; Reaching out to employees – especially those you are aware may find it challenging – and talk to them; Responding by (most importantly) listening to what they say, understanding how they are best supported, agreeing what is best (for some, talking about it may help, others may prefer a ‘business as usual’ response) and reminding them of supports such as an Employee Assistance Programmes. 

If you have any questions on this on any other area of Employment law, please get in touch with Blackadders Employment Team, working in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and across Scotland.

Nicola Burns

Nicola Burns

Director of Operations

Marketing Team

+44 1382 342217

The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.

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