Is your workplace PWD-friendly?

The Singaporean government is urging businesses to be more accommodating of workers with special needs

Is your workplace PWD-friendly?
A r
ecent survey done by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) found that out of 1,000 persons with disabilities (PWD), more than 60% believe that they are not treated fairly in the workplace.

Respondents said they felt left out in the workplace and from opportunities for professional development, preventing them “from doing what they could, and wanted to do in the workplace”.

While some employers have taken on PWDs in their employ (850 have found employment through the Open Door Programme, according to a report), MP for Jalan Basar GRC Denise Phua told Channel News Asia that it takes more than just a kind heart.

"Many of them don't have the knowledge nor the understanding to support and employ and place effectively a person with special needs,” she said.

“You really need to structure the work setting. Get the work environment ready as well and sometimes things that need to be done include job redesign, making sure some accommodations that may be required - some of the KPIs or jobs that can be resized and reshaped.”

Companies like ABR Holdings, for example, assign special needs employees’ tasks that management feels they can thrive in.

Those that have an aptitude for interacting with customers are put on the frontline, while those that require more repetitive tasks are given back-of-house type roles, said Andrew Khoo, COO of Swensen’s, one of ABR Holdings’ restaurants.

The government is urging businesses to take part in training and development courses under the SG Enable initiative in order to understand disabilities and to be able to make their workplaces more PWD-friendly.

To date, they reported that over 1,000 employers from various businesses have already taken part in this initiative.

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