Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Singapore job seekers to declare mental health



Singapore job seekers to declare mental health

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Posed photo of a depressed person. The Tafep website advises employers that "all declarations on mental health condition should also be removed from the job application forms". THE STRAITS TIMES /ANN

Singapore job seekers to declare mental health

Asking job applicants to declare their mental health conditions without good reason is discriminatory, Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) made clear in an addition to its guidelines last month.

A Tafep spokesman told the Straits Times it changed the guidelines listed on its website last month and has engaged more than 8,000 employers through e-mail and other means to raise awareness.

Tafep guidelines already required fields on age, gender, race, religion, marital status, family responsibilities, or disability, to be removed.

The Tafep website now advises employers that “all declarations on mental health condition should also be removed from the job application forms”.

In its reply to The Straits Times, Tafep said its guidelines require all employers to recruit and select on merit.

“Employers should therefore not include self-declarations about mental health conditions in job application forms unless they can adequately explain the relevance of the information,” it said.

If the employer fails to do so, Tafep may refer the case to the Ministry of Manpower for enforcement actions on the grounds of discrimination, it added.

The addition is a significant one for advocates and persons with mental health conditions, who have called for change for some time.

Porsche Poh said her Silver Ribbon advocacy group has been discussing with the authorities since 2016 the challenges faced by persons with mental health conditions in securing jobs.

“Individuals with mental health conditions often shared that they were worried about declaring for fear of lowering their employment chances,” said Poh, who added that Silver Ribbon will help spread the news about declarations to employers and employees.

“A lot of people think that people with mental health conditions can’t contribute or are lazy. That’s untrue. Most look for work, want to give back to society and lead productive lives, but fear declaring,” she said.

Nominated member of Parliament Anthea Ong had also spoken out against such declarations in her first parliamentary speech in November 2018. She told The Straits Times that many international firms have long abolished the practice.

“This discriminatory practice is so entrenched in Singapore, especially among local employers, that dislodging this signals the first of many critical structural changes we need – to destigmatise mental health to be a truly inclusive and resilient society,” she said.

Mental health professionals also welcomed the move. Chua Hong Choon, CEO of the Institute of Mental Health, said it means people with mental health conditions will not have to face the dilemma of whether to reveal their conditions when applying for jobs.

“Persons with mental health conditions should be given equal opportunities to be considered for a job based on their skills and abilities. I hope more employers will adopt this enlightened approach and help break down mental health stigma at the workplace,” said Chua.

Like Ong, Geraldine Tan, principal psychologist and director of The Therapy Room, reckons attitudes in Singapore on persons with mental health conditions are “very traditional and closed”.

“It is sad that while we are advocating for inclusivity, employers like government agencies still have a closed mindset towards hiring people with mental health conditions, who fear being found out and ostracised at work,” she said while acknowledging the need for organisations like the police to obtain information on mental health.

In a response to a parliamentary question by Ong in March last year, who called on the public service to do away with mental health condition declarations, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said it does not track the number of officers recovering from mental health conditions.

According to the 2018 Singapore Mental Health Survey, one in seven people in Singapore has experienced a mental health condition at some point in his life.

THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Inter-provincial travel ban lifted; Phnom Penh and Takmao not exempted

    The government on April 25 decided to lift the inter-provincial travel ban and the closure of tourist attractions across the country, effectively immediately. The travel ban and closures of all resorts were imposed on April 6 and 17 respectively in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR