LGBT+ workers health and wellbeing

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2021 Virtual Special Water, Enviroment & Transport Conference
14 April 2021

Conference welcomes the increased recognition that mental health is a serious workplace issue for staff working in the Water, Environment and Transport sectors. It also has a strong equalities dimension.

Even without the impact of the pandemic, people vulnerable to discrimination face worse levels of mental ill health. In the wider community, around 1 in 4 people are affected by mental ill health. But in the LGBT+ community these figures can be as high as 70%, with trans people � and in particular young trans people � significantly over-represented (41% having attempted to end their lives). Many LGBT+ people will avoid healthcare settings they do not feel safe in, and are far more likely to access LGBT+ specific services for support with their mental health.

During the pandemic, calls to specialised LGBT+ help lines have increased dramatically.

The pandemic has physically removed LGBT+ workers from LGBT+ support groups in and outside of the workplace, limiting their ability to seek help. For some, their own homes have been unsafe with LGBT+ workers, particularly young workers, having been forced to stay in hostile environments with unsupportive family.

Galop, the LGBT anti-violence charity, found an escalation in the number of reports they received about hate crime and hate speech. Some of this violence and abuse was perpetrated by people who blamed the LGBT+ community for the pandemic, and often included references to the AIDS epidemic and Covid-19 as a �punishment from God�.

Conference recognises the importance of ensuring that WET employers have policies and procedures that help to protect the mental health of staff in general and provide support to workers experiencing mental health problems, and welcomes the UNISON �Bargaining on mental health policies� guide for branches.

It also recognises the importance of occupational health services, employee health and wellbeing programmes and employee assistance programmes being fully LGBT+ inclusive.

Conference therefore calls on the WET service group executive, in liaison with the national LGBT+ committee and other parts of the union as appropriate, to:

a. Seek to ensure that workforce health and wellbeing is on the bargaining agenda with all WET employers;

b. Urge employers to acknowledge the impact of discrimination on mental health and include a strong equality dimension in mental health initiatives and strategies;

c. Promote the UNISON �Bargaining on mental health policies� guide to branches;

d. Gather and publicise examples from branches organising in the service group of good practice in occupational health services, employee health and wellbeing programmes and employee assistance programmes;

e. Call on employers to acknowledge the importance of specialist support services, such as LGBT+ support services, and publicise them to staff, where these exist;

f. Signpost information and support on LGBT+ mental health to WET branches, stewards, equality co-ordinators and LGBT+ officers.