Are employees suffering from depression in the South African workplace protected by the existing disability provisions within employment law?
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Depression is a mood disorder that negatively affects the way in which a person feels about himself or herself. This can ultimately affect an employee's ability to work, through reducing his or her capabilities to perform within the workplace. Individuals who suffer from depression are often discriminated against due to the societal prejudice that continues to exist about depression. In the workplace such discrimination often prevents employees from qualifying for promotions, or prospective employees from being offered employment. The fear of being subjected to unfair discrimination because of depression frequently results in employees not disclosing their mental health status to their employers, which often then causes the depression to become worse. In order to effectively address this issue, the legislative framework in South Africa dealing with employment rights can be broadened to include depression as a disability, thereby also further protecting depressed employees from discrimination in the workplace.