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Anviti Connect: Addressing new paradigms on Mental Wellbeing and Employment Practices Liability

Anviti Connect, yet again created a platform for organizations to gather and bring attention to workplace issues that we don’t usually discuss. This year, the focus was on two such topics:

  1. Mental wellbeing at workplace – Addressing new paradigms
  2. Trends and developments in Employment Practices Liability

Challenges and Approach when it comes to dealing with mental health issues:

Recent studies have pointed out that one out of every five employees in India is going through some form of mental health issue. With this rate, it’s essential for employers to have a look out for what their employees are going through and whether any kind of intervention is required. Mental health is still a taboo in India and not many employees talk openly about their mental states. Though awareness on mental health is increasing, people still face stigma and discrimination. The lack of immediate and obvious visibility coupled with the stigma affecting mental health remains a major problem. All levels of management recognize the problem, but still there is a struggle on how to address it.

Need of Health Insurance to cover mental illness--Treatment gaps for major depression and neurosis were identified to be 85.2% and 83.2%, respectively. Among the various factors thought to have an impact on treatment gap, affordability of care was identified as one critical factor influencing treatment utilization. The inclusion of psychiatric disorders under the ambit of insurance will no doubt contribute towards reducing the treatment gap by covering for the financial risks that families need to endure. Although traditionally, psychiatric disorders have been kept out of the health insurance schemes, the enactment of MHCA 2017 has brought in a welcome change in the scenario.

The session helped to narrow down the following ways to address and improve mental wellbeing at workplace:

  1. Bring new initiatives by which one can increase the awareness on psychological wellbeing among corporate employees and in their community
  2. Support a culture embracing health in all aspects and not differentiating mental health and potentially increasing focus and stigma
  3. Integrate mental health, resilience for all into all training programmes. Make people management a core line manager competency.
  4. Encourage open and honest conversations at all business levels. Train all line managers to recognise when employees may be failing and developing a mental health problem, how to have empathetic and supportive conversations with employees and know where professional help is available.
  5. Make holistic lifestyle awareness, development and support programs readily available and develop a culture where 24-hour communications and impact on personal time manageable.
  6. Role of Medical Experts & EAP service providers— they will play an important role in bringing the awareness on mental illnesses and helping the employees to break the stigma for right help required

Emerging Trends in Employment Practices Liability

A thoughtfully selected panel consisting of S Mahadevan (Executive Vice President - Legal, Compliance – Hinduja Global Solutions), Utham Chengappa (Founding partner - Mani Chengappa & Mathur), Veena Gopalakrishnan (Employment Law Partner - AZB & Partners), Najm Bilgrami (National Head, Financial Lines - Tata AIG), Sudha Panyam (Director HR – PopReach technologies) discussed the emerging risks related to Employee Practices Liability (EPL) and ways to cope with them. The session was moderated by Pankhuri Saxena (AVP, Financial Lines and M&A – Anviti).

Nowadays, employment related risks are among the most potentially damaging exposures any business can face. Even if a business isn’t at fault, it still must defend itself against a charge of employment practices misconduct, which itself could be a costly affair. The session reviewed some alarming statistics around the average expenses associated with an employee lawsuit that doesn’t end with settlement costs, judgment, and defense payments alone. Statistics around the average time taken to resolve such claims and the exceedingly higher probability of a lawsuit being won by employees or plaintiff were also pondered upon.

Employers constantly face new challenges and exposures as a result of a changing legal landscape and employee-friendly courts. The panelists also discussed some of the pertinent changes in employment law across geographies. The recent trends of confronting employers and driving employment practice liability incidents were brought to the limelight on how the EPL litigation landscape is shifting. Case studies on the following movements were debated:

  • Workplace Sexual Harassment: #MeToo movement
  • Gender and Sexual Orientation Discrimination: LGBTQ Workplace protection
  • Retaliation Charges, whistle -blowers rights
  • Social Media Issues: Privacy concerns

In order to help employers cope, underwriters have developed unique employment practices liability wordings and carve backs to address emerging exposures. The panel touched upon the changes in wordings that businesses should insist on incorporating in their insurance programs. It also enlightened the audiences on the best practices followed by companies across industries when it comes to EPL.

While there is no elixir for avoiding employment practice liability claims, businesses can better mitigate risks by establishing and implementing critical policies, training sessions, prompt reporting and investigation procedures.

The event successfully shed light on better risk management, best practices that companies can adopt, employment law and policies and lastly the protection that insurance can offer. Through this initiative, Anviti will continue to bring such subjects to the forefront for the insurance sector to build better workplace cultures and policies.

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