Public service committed to provide 'inclusive and mental health-friendly' workplace: Chan Chun Sing

Public service committed to provide 'inclusive and mental health-friendly' workplace: Chan Chun Sing

Inclusive job fair
Jobseekers at the Inclusive Job Fair organised by NTUC. (Photo: NTUC)

SINGAPORE: Public agencies do not require job applicants to declare their medical health history, said Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 4).

This includes the individual's mental health condition, said the Public Service Division (PSD).

Since May 1, 2017, the PSD has removed all declaration questions on medical health from job application forms, Mr Chan said in response to a question from Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Anthea Ong.

She had asked for the public service's response to the latest guidelines by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) which states that it is discriminatory to ask job applicants to declare their mental health condition without good reason.

The guidelines, which was revised in December, also called for all declarations on mental health condition be removed from job application forms.

Ms Ong also asked for the number of applicants who declared their mental health condition and joined the public service. Mr Chan said that the Government does not track those figures.

Mr Chan said the public service is committed to providing its officers with “an inclusive and mental health-friendly workplace”. This includes access to counselling and alternative work arrangements for those with mental health conditions to better manage their condition or recovery, as well as getting the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to teach managers how to detect early signs of distress.

READ: 'I don't want to be Eugene Tan with bipolar': People with mental health issues face workplace discrimination

More than 500 public officers have taken part in HPB’s workshop so far.

Ms Ong also brought up the case of an individual who applied as a relief teacher but was rejected due to a history of depression. In reply, Mr Chan said Ms Ong could follow up with the Ministry of Education or the PSD on this specific case.

She also wanted to know if the Government allows its employees to apply for mental health leave and make medical claims for psychiatric treatment. 

The public service does not have "mental health" leave at this point in time, Mr Chan said in reply.

“But I am sure if somebody for medical exigencies needs extra care they can contact their respective supervisors and we can work out the appropriate arrangements," he added.

Source: CNA/rp

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