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Facebook Australia has signed a pledge saying employees shouldn't be connected to work when on leave among a string of mental health principles

Sharon Masige

Image: Facebook

  • Facebook is one of 20 companies to sign the first ever minimum standards for mental health support in creative industries.
  • The standards outline the minimum requirements for businesses when it comes to issues such as disclosing mental health issues and working overtime and on weekends.
  • The standards were introduced by the Mentally Healthy Change Group, a collection of volunteer executives who want to tackle mental ill health in their industries.

Facebook is one of 20 companies to sign the first ever set of minimum standards for mental health support in creative industries.

The Minimum Standards for Mental Health in the Creative, Media and Marketing Industry were introduced by the Mentally Healthy Change Group, a collection of volunteer executives who want to make their industry more mentally healthy.

"These standards are the bare minimum that we believe is reasonable for organisations to provide a safe and supportive workplace for the mental wellbeing of its people," the Mentally Healthy website said.

The standards outline the minimum requirements businesses should have when it comes to employees disclosing mental health issues, working overtime and on weekends and providing them with psychologically safe workplaces.

"We don't expect our people to be connected to work when on annual, sick or carers leave, this includes sending or responding to emails and taking calls," the standards document pledges. "When on leave, you should be having a break and truly disconnecting from work."

The standards outline a commitment to supporting those who disclose their mental health issues and not victimising or discriminating against them. It also suggests that companies provide a workplace that is "psychologically safe and supportive of individual differences".

Going one step further, the standards acknowledge the unpredictable nature of creative industries, with workers sometimes required to work overtime or on weekends. "We don't expect our people to do so consistently and will offer time in lieu should this happen," the standards said. "The same goes for significant and continued overtime."

Some of the standards are based legislation and others were tested among leaders and business owners in the industry "to ensure that they can not be argued", the Mentally Healthy website said.

They are an opt-in set of standards, with companies in creative industries encourages to sign and adopt them.

The standards were launched at the Agency Leaders Symposium 2019 in the Hunter Valley this week. Facebook was among 20 of the signatories, along with advertising and media agencies Edelman, Havas, Ooh Media and PHD Media.

“Facebook are proud to support the minimum standards and initiatives to remove the stigma associated with mental health of our industry,” Facebook ANZ Managing Director William Easton said.

Robert Stone, National HR & Talent Director of McCann World Group said, “The Minimum Standards is a huge step that paves a positive and significant path forward for our industry.”

PHD’s people and culture director, Manon Pietra said many organisations felt overwhelmed and confused about what they should be doing and what their legal responsibilities were in relation to mental health.

“The Minimum Standards were developed to make it easy for businesses to know where to start and for staff members to know what is acceptable and what isn’t," she said, according to Mumbrella.

"They are the bare minimum that we believe is reasonable for organisations to do to provide a safe and supportive workplace for the mental wellbeing of its people and are created with the realities of our industry in mind.”

Andy Wright, co-chair of the Mentally Healthy Change Group, said the group is looking at ways to measure how companies are complying with the standards, according to Mumbrella, and hopes to see companies go beyond the minimum standards.

It's not the first time Facebook has signed up to publicly throw support behind Australia's media industry.

In February, the social media giant announced a $5 million investment into Australian journalism to help publishers understand how they can profit from its platform . As part of its investment, Facebook also announced the Facebook Journalism Project News Accelerator in Australia in partnership with the Walkley Foundation.

It comes as the federal government is assessing a number of recommendations from regulator the ACCC aimed at reducing any negative impact of Facebook and Google's business models on media companies.