Singapore tackles mental health discrimination

Employers can now be punished for asking jobseekers to declare their condition on application forms

Singapore tackles mental health discrimination

Asking job candidates to declare their mental health conditions is discriminatory, said the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).

All declarations on mental health conditions should be removed from job application forms, TAFEP wrote on their website.

If employers fail to remove them, TAFEP may refer the case to the Ministry of Manpower for “enforcement actions” on the grounds of discrimination.

“Companies should not ask job applicants to declare personal information such as their mental health condition unless there is a job related requirement,” TAFEP said.

TAFEP’s guidelines for fair employment practices was updated last December, reported The Straits Times.

Other fields that should be avoided during recruitment include age, gender, race, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability.

If the information is necessary, TAFEP advised employers to “state your reasons clearly” to the candidate.

READ MORE: Is HR doing enough for mental health?

A step in the right direction, this is something mental wellness advocates like nominated member of parliament (NMP) Anthea Ong have campaigned for a long time. Ong has called the recruitment practice “archaic”.

“If we truly want to do something about this, the smaller and easiest step is to stop asking job applicants to declare if they have ever suffered from a mental health condition,” Ong told HRD in a past interview.

Many multinational and international companies have rid of the practice, she said, as it is “clearly…very much a discriminatory practice”.

“If HR leaders want to start embracing mental well-being as a culture you want to promote, then you can’t ask that,” she said.

Keeping the “archaic” discriminatory practice shows that you’re not being “congruent”, she said. On one hand, you’re saying that your organisation supports people with mental health difficulties, while on the other, you’re singling them out even before they get the job.

Even if you keep the question on the application form, most people can just lie about their condition to get the job and simply keep on worrying about being “found out”.

“All of which is so unnecessary,” she said.

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