I am a worker

Meeting your duties

As a worker, you have a responsibility to follow your workplace policies and processes, and to stay within the relevant workplace laws.

Your legal obligations

On this page is key information you need to know to help you meet your work health and safety obligations.

On this website you can also learn about workplace factors that impact mental health, simple steps to help you stay well at work, how to build mental health knowledge and skills and get support when you and your coworkers need it.

Recovering at work after mental illness

If you’ve had some time off work because of mental ill-health or illness, you can ask your employer for reasonable workplace adjustments and support to get back to work. If you are returning to work following a psychological injury arising from work, your employer will also have obligations under NSW workers compensation legislation, for instance, they may be required to provide suitable alternative employment to you. Find out more about recovering at work.

Discrimination and mental illness

The Fair Work Ombudsman states, under the Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009 discrimination occurs in the workplace when an employer takes adverse action against an worker or prospective worker because of a protected attribute, such as a mental illness.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 , an employer or business must not discriminate against you for having a mental illness if you are able to carry out the inherent requirements or essential duties of the job.

Discrimination can mean treating someone less favourably, or not giving them the same opportunities as others in a similar situation, because of their mental illness. It also includes an unreasonable rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people with a mental illness. This is explained by the Australian Human Rights Commission. That includes in setting its selection processes, in deciding who to employ, and at any time while you are employed. Discrimination can mean treating someone less favourably, or not giving them the same opportunities, as others in a similar situation, because of their mental illness. It also includes when an unreasonable rule or policy is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people with a mental illness. This is explained by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Discrimination can also mean failing to provide reasonable adjustments to you if you are experiencing mental illness. To provide a fair workplace, free from discrimination, if you are experiencing mental illness your employer should support you to continue to do your jobs safely and productively. Read more about reasonable workplace adjustments and read these examples.

Privacy and confidentiality

To get the support you need to stay healthy and productive at work, it may help to talk to your employer or manager about your mental illness. Under privacy legislation in Australia, if you share personal information about your mental illness with your employer or the business that information generally cannot be disclosed without your consent except under special circumstances that are covered by legislation. See Appendix A in this guide for more details.

Use this tool to help you decide whether to talk about your mental ill-health or illness at work.

Rights and responsibilities
Let's talk

If you have questions about mental health at work call SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 or email contact@safework.nsw.gov.au for:

  • information and resources on mental health at work and workplace factors
  • to report unsafe work practices
  • to report notifiable incidents like serious work-related injuries.