SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will soon be issuing an advisory to help employers take steps to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.
In his Committee of Supply speech on Tuesday (Mar 3), Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that the ministry will formulate a Tripartite Advisory on mental wellbeing to educate employers on what can be done.
The advisory will highlight initiatives companies should emulate, and that could include access to anonymised external counselling service, or training supervisors to identify mental health symptoms early.
MOM aims to finalise the advisory in the second half of this year.
The ministry is also piloting iWorkHealth, a web-based psychosocial assessment tool to help employers and their employees identify workplace stressors, while recommending ways to improve mental well-being. The tool is expected to launch later this year.
National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Melvin Yong separately announced in his speech that the union will work with the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to promote mental wellbeing at workplaces.
The group will profile inclusive employers “who have gone the extra mile to put in place robust mental wellness programmes to help employees stay mentally healthy and resilient”, Mr Yong said, with the aim of having them as industry role models.
DISCRIMINATION ON GROUNDS OF MENTAL HEALTH
In response to Nominated Member of Parliament Anthea Ong’s question whether sick leave entitlements can be used for both physical and mental health conditions, Mr Zaqy said that this is already the case.
When issuing medical certificates, a doctor should not indicate to the employer the nature of the patient’s medical condition unless the patient has consented to it, he said.
Employers are expected to practise fair employment practices laid out in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, Mr Zaqy pointed out. Discrimination on grounds of a person’s mental health condition will be penalised.
However, he noted that for certain occupations such as pilots and police officers, some mental health conditions may affect their ability to perform their job roles effectively.
“In these cases, it is reasonable for employers to ask applicants for more information to make a holistic assessment of their wellbeing,” he said.
“Otherwise, employers should not be asking for information on the applicant’s mental health.”