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Employer required to pay for depressed employee`s private counselling

18 October 2013 #Employment


In Croft Vets Ltd and others v Butcher, the EAT has upheld a tribunal`s decision that an employer, in not paying for an employee with work-related stress and depression to have private psychiatric counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy, breached its duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010.

The adjustments, which were recommended by a consultant psychiatrist, were sufficiently "job-related". Importantly, the evidence was that the claimant, a finance and reception manager at a veterinary practice, was suffering from work related stress which had triggered a severe depressive episode. It was also found that the therapy was a specific form of support to help the employee return to work and cope with her work-related difficulties.

In reaching its decision, the EAT emphasised that this was not a case about employers generally being obliged to pay for private medical treatment and the case was decided on its particular facts. However, where there is clear evidence that:

  1. The employer has caused the work related stress which in turn causes or aggravates severe depresssion and
  2. The medical evidence is that therapy is specifically recommended as a way of getting the employee back to work and coping with their duties,

it seems likely that this will be a reasonable adjustment and hence one that the employer should consider and have good grounds for rejecting.

The financial burden of adjustments is something that a tribunal may take into consideration. However, it seems that this case may pave the way for further cases in this area, to clarify to what extent an employer must go in funding private therapy to deal with stress and depression for its disabled employees.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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